Are Idaho taxes fair? Depends on whom you ask

Changing taxes would benefit some Idahoans, but hurt others
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The joke goes something like this: A state tax commissioner asks a crowd of business people which tax they think is the fairest. There’s a long pause, and then a white-haired man in the back raises his hand.

"The poll tax," he says.

"But the poll tax was repealed," the commissioner replies.

"Yeah," the man says. "That’s what I like about it."

On a few Internet humor sites, the scene takes place in Vermont. But it should sound familiar to the 14 Idaho lawmakers who traveled the state to talk about the property tax this summer.

The Idaho Legislature will have to answer what is fair this winter, and it won’t be easy. Almost anything the state does — including nothing — will help some Idaho taxpayers and hurt others.

Gregory Hahn
The Idaho Statesman

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Property tax ideas could help ldaho poor

Some costs would shift to those with pricier homes

Idaho’s lower-income homeowners will get a break on their property taxes if the first two ideas from a legislative committee are accepted at the Statehouse this winter.

The 14 lawmakers on the panel seemed less inclined to agree during a Friday meeting than they had in earlier discussions, but they found common ground on two areas:

• Increasing property tax relief for low-income seniors and people with disabilities.

• Boosting the tax exemption for more than half the homeowners in the state.

Both would lessen the tax burden of low-income Idahoans, and either shift the costs to sales and income taxes or to businesses, farmers and folks who own more expensive homes.

By Gregory Hahn
The Idaho Statesman

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