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Economist: Idaho Homeowners Beware of "Tax Talk"

August 6, 2007

Taxes are proving to be just as complicated for state legislators as they are for regular Idahoans. An interim committee that was supposed to take a look at the state's many sales tax exemptions couldn't decide yet if any should be removed because so many are tied to other tax issues, including taxes for businesses and property owners. Economist Judy Brown with the Idaho Center on Budget and Tax Policy was at the meeting and she says homeowners should beware because of a strong push to repeal some business taxes that could quickly end up on the homeowner's property tax bill.

"People need to pay attention to how that's done because it shouldn't be done by shifting that burden back onto homeowners. That wipes out the re-balancing achieved by the homeowner's exemption."

Brown believes the committee is right to go slow because repealing any tax means another tax will have to be raised to make up the difference.

The committee also talked about tax breaks given to big businesses that promised to do good things for the state, and then the promises were broken. Brown notes that it makes fiscal sense to make sure businesses make good on their promises.

"There is talk about making these exemptions accountable and putting any new exemption on the books accountable is a very serious discussion."

Deborah Smith/Chris Thomas, Public News Service - ID