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Will ND Repeal State Tax on Social Security Benefits?

Supporters of repealing North Dakota's tax on Social Security benefits say the state revenue that would be lost amounts to less than 1 percent of the state budget. (401(K)2012/Flickr)
Supporters of repealing North Dakota's tax on Social Security benefits say the state revenue that would be lost amounts to less than 1 percent of the state budget. (401(K)2012/Flickr)
March 29, 2019

BISMARCK, N.D. – If the North Dakota Senate follows in the footsteps of the House, Social Security checks would increase for retirees in the state.

The Senate Appropriations Committee is reviewing House Bill 1174, which would repeal the state tax on Social Security benefits. North Dakota is one of just three states that still taxes Social Security like the federal government.

Mike Chaussee, associate state director for advocacy with AARP North Dakota, says repealing the tax would put a little extra money in the pockets of those who need it.

"Older North Dakotans living on fixed incomes, a few dollars here, a few dollars there, make a difference and help their financial stability, help them stay in the houses and their communities for as long as possible," says Chaussee.

Some argue the state would lose about $21 million over the next two years by repealing the tax. However, supporters note that's less than 1 percent of the budget.

Lawmakers in both the House and Senate approved the measure, despite a "Do Not Pass" recommendation from the Senate Finance and Taxation Committee. It still requires approval from the Appropriations Committee.

About 50,000 retirees in North Dakota have incomes that meet the current Social Security taxation threshold of $32,000 dollars for joint filers, which hasn't been adjusted in more than three decades. And Chaussee says there are unprecedented levels of support for repealing the tax.

"We have never seen the type of short-term, quick response on an issue from our members as we've seen on this one," says Chaussee. “Our members are convinced that it's not fair; they would rather not pay that tax."

Chaussee contends money lost from not taxing Social Security benefits would essentially be put back into the economy. He explains North Dakotans age 50 and older support 51 percent of consumer spending in the state, or about $14 billion annually.

Twenty-eight states fully exempt Social Security benefits as taxable income.

Mary Schuermann Kuhlman, Public News Service - ND