October 31, 2022
Let’s Talk Truth About Taxes
By: District 31 Representative Julianne Young
I would like to set the record straight about false claims that I support raising the sales tax. Here’s why this is ludicrous and unjustified.
As a mom who has raised a large family on a single income, I am fiscally conservative to the core. “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without” is not just a mantra for me. It is a way of life. Tax reduction has always been a priority for me. My record is clear. I repeatedly vote against increased fees and proactively supported efforts to flatten and reduce state income tax for all taxpayers.
Idaho Republicans have also worked to curb rising property taxes. In 2020, local taxing districts partnered with Democrats and liberal Republicans to block almost every proposed reform. Consequently, as the legislative session was ending without a solution in sight, House Republicans put forward H409, the property tax freeze bill, which would have stopped property tax increases for one year, in an effort to bring these other players to the table. Ironically, my resolute support for making every effort to bring players to the table has been criticized by some while simultaneously attempting to paint me as a big-taxer!
There are three primary ways to reduce property tax: cap local budget growth, shift the tax burden between groups of taxpayers, or backfill local budgets with state tax dollars in order to get a commensurate reduction in property tax. Republican legislators have employed each option at different times. Recent legislation placed an 8% cap on overall budget growth. The homeowner’s exemption has been and will likely be raised again, creating a small shift in property tax burden away from owner-occupied homes to commercial and agricultural property owners. (This shift is appropriate in our inflated residential market.) And local coffers have been backfilled by diverting state COVID-19 relief dollars to local taxing districts and requiring a commensurate reduction in property tax burdens.
In our current inflationary environment, 6% of higher prices means higher revenue, and Idaho has a 2-billion-dollar surplus. Obviously, the sales tax is too high! However, this surplus presents an opportunity to address other tax burdens also. A recent proposal would BOTH reduce the sales tax AND divert .5% of the remaining sales tax to offset and reduce property taxes. Another proposal provides state dollars for school building maintenance or repair, removing those costs from property tax rolls. Again, these proposals would NOT involve a sales tax increase. Instead, they involve using existing funds to cover existing expenses AND provide tax relief where it is most sorely needed. These are examples of proposals I’m willing to consider.
To be clear, my position has been falsely represented to voters. The statement which has been circulated doesn’t reflect an interest in raising sales tax but was made in response to a question about ways to reduce property tax. The demand that I tell voters “how much” I plan to raise the sales tax is ludicrous, particularly in our current economic environment! The only question I am asking is how much we can reduce all taxation!