It’s not often that reporters write about what didn’t happen. But for close observers of the 2013 session, it’s worth noting what the House Revenue and Taxation Committee did not take up this morning: legislation to repeal or scale back Idaho’s personal property tax
After the committee abandoned plans to vote on two existing bills on Thursday, the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry’s Alex LaBeau made known that he was at work on a new bill he hoped to present today. LaBeau represents many of the state’s large businesses and has consistently pushed to eliminate the tax.
Today, Chairman Gary Collins (R-Nampa) confirmed he has received a new draft bill on the issue. Without explaining his plans for that legislation, he said the committee could vote as soon as next Tuesday or Wednesday. “We will have a property tax hearing — a vote — eventually,” he said. “Sometimes these things take a little time.”
The main hold-up appears to be a lack of consensus. “There are those who would just as soon not do anything this year,” Collins explained. “I’m not going to bring something forth that is going to go down in flames.”
Idaho’s business personal property tax generates $140 million annually for local government and taxing districts. The existing Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry bill would phase it out between now and 2019 and replace the lost local revenue with a maximum of $120 million annually from the state general fund. A competing bill from the Idaho Association of Counties would exempt the first $100,000 worth of personal property from taxation. In that case, the cost of replacement is estimated at $19 million each year.
The Revenue and Taxation Committee is only the first hurdle for any legislation that would repeal or partially repeal the tax. If the committee does pass a bill, it must then get through the full House, the Senate Local Government and Taxation Committee, and the full Senate. Pushing a bill through the system could be a tall order: Legislative leaders have said they plan to adjourn by the end of this month.