After I filed a public records request Wednesday for all the documents sent to members of the Legislature’s Tax Working Group, I received a welcome call from Legislative Services Director Eric Milstead: Legislative staffers were in the process of posting all those documents online. They went up Thursday; you can see them here.
Documents and tables posted from the group’s earlier discussions include scenarios for various possible reforms of Idaho’s personal income tax system. They include shifting to a model more like Utah’s modified flat tax, which has a single 5 percent tax rate – Idaho’s rates now range from 1.6 to 7.4 percent – but provides credits based on income levels; and flattening Idaho’s current graduated rates while limiting increases for any taxpayer to 10 percent or 15 percent, which would mean top earners would get substantial tax cuts, whole those in the middle would see small increases. Some of those proposals are designed to be “revenue neutral,” meaning they’d still collect the same total amount of individual income taxes.
Simply shifting Idaho’s tax system to the Utah method – which would require substantial changes in how taxes are calculated, while imposing a single 5 percent rate – would reduce Idaho’s individual income tax collections by roughly $59.3 million a year. No decisions have been made on whether or how to change Idaho’s system.
The group, which includes six senators and six representatives, will meet Tuesday at 8:30 a.m. in room WW 17 of the state Capitol (basement level); the meeting also will be streamed online here. The panel is scheduled to hear from the state’s chief economist, Derek Santos, on Idaho’s current “tax expenditures,” which include tax exemptions, credits and deductions; from outgoing Commerce Director Jeff Sayer on business trends; and from legislative budget analyst Keith Bybee on comparisons of Idaho tax rates to other states.