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Eye On Boise

After many questions, Rev & Tax signs off on adjustments to Tax Reimbursement Incentive Act

Legislation to make “several minor changes” in Idaho’s new tax reimbursement incentive act, a tax break lawmakers approved last year to grant a tax credit for up to 30 percent of a business’s state income tax, sales taxes and payroll taxes for up to 15 years when the firm brings in a specified number of new high-paying jobs cleared the House Revenue & Taxation Committee this morning, but not without lots and lots of questions from lawmakers.

State Commerce Director Jeff Sayer characterized the changes as “housekeeping” changes, but several representatives asked about alterations in the clause that requires  the new jobs to pay more than the county average wage. The current law says to qualify, a company must add “jobs that pay annual wage that equal or exceed the average annual county wage where the jobs will be created.” Under the bill, HB 172, that’s changed to “jobs that collectively pay an average annual wage that equals or exceeds the average annual county wage of the county with jurisdiction over the local government providing the applicant’s community match.”

Committee members asked if that meant a project could bring in a CEO with a million-dollar salary and a bunch of minimum-wage underlings and qualify. “If someone were to bring us that scenario, it would not score very high,” Sayer said. “We would actually address that in our analysis process. … What we’re trying to accomplish here is almost the antithesis or the other end of the spectrum. … We’re looking at the collective whole.” Sayer said the Department of Commerce wanted to make sure that an applicant couldn’t pressure it to approve a project with, say, 51 higher-paid jobs and 200 minimum-wage jobs.  “Our concern is someone could legally force our hand,” he said. “Our argument is no, the intent of this bill is to … look at the project as a whole.”

The committee finally voted in favor of the bill, moving it to the full House for a vote.



Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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