Boise-based Micron and two of its subsidiaries are three of the top five business personal property tax payers in Ada County.
In 2011, Micron paid more than $2.9 million. MP Mask Technology Center, a joint venture between Micron and Photronics Inc. paid almost $1 million, and shuttered Micron joint venture Transform Holdings Inc. (Transform Solar) paid nearly $440,000.
So, Micron stands to gain the most in Ada County, and arguably the state, if Idaho lawmakers nix the personal property tax
. Micron knows it.
Micron government affairs spokesman Mike Reynoldson says the company is working with lawmakers and the business lobby Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry to eliminate the tax.
“We have a policy from the 1900s being applied to the 21st Century,” says Reynoldson, explaining the company’s objection to the tax. Micron supports a full elimination of the business personal property tax, not a partial exemption of personal property.
Reynoldson says Micron invests heavily in manufacturing equipment, tools, and machinery each year; he estimates those investments are in the multimillion dollar range. “[The tax] unfortunately creates a disincentive to make those investments,” says Reynoldson. “It’s quite a penalty.”
One idea that’s been floated is to exempt the first $100,000 worth of personal property from taxation. That would get rid of the tax for almost 90 percent of Idaho’s businesses, but preserve most of the tax revenue.
Reynoldson says that’s unfair. “I’ve labeled that as creating a major investment penalty in the state,” he says. “What you’re saying to the remaining 15 or 20 percent of taxpayers who have property in excess [of $100,000] – is, ‘Congratulations, you’re the only one left we’re going to charge,’” says Reynoldson. “It would make the problem worse in my mind.”
In Ada County, 8 percent of property tax revenue comes from this business tax. So, it may not be as difficult for the county to make up for that lost $24.6 million in revenue. But for counties that rely more heavily on the tax, like Caribou and Power Counties, making up those lost dollars will be a challenge.
We’ll take you to Power County on Friday to explain. Listen to Morning Edition on KBSX 91.5 fm at 6:30 and 8:30 a.m.. We’ll also post the story here!