BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Idaho residents would get a break on property taxes and grocery sales taxes under proposed legislation introduced Wednesday.
The House Revenue and Taxation Committee voted to clear the way for hearings on four measures, most of them introduced by the House’s two most powerful members.
The state’s grocery tax credit that can be deducted from taxes would jump by $15 for seniors and $35 for others, to $135. The growth in property taxes would be capped at 3% annually under one bill, and another would impose a one-year freeze on increases.
Another bill would require taxing districts to get public approval to hold onto extra money for use in a later year if they collect the maximum allowed but budget less.
Republican House Speaker Scott Bedke introduced the grocery tax credit legislation.
It “negates the effects of taxing food in Idaho for all Idaho citizens,” Bedke told lawmakers.
Visitors would not be able to recoup the 6% taxes they pay on food.
Republicans said in a statement that the change would mean Idaho taxpayers could purchase on average $187.50 in groceries per month and recoup the 6% of taxes they paid with the increased credit. That adds up to $2,250 per family member annually.
Bedke said the change would cost the state just under $50 million annually. That money would come from the internet sales tax, which has been set aside for tax relief. Bedke said that account is collecting about $7 million a month.
Republican Gov. Brad Little in his State of the State speech proposed grocery sales tax relief by using $35 million from internet sales taxes.
Republican House Majority Leader Mike Moyle introduced the legislation involving property taxes. Property taxes in some areas have been rising rapidly because of Idaho’s fast growth.
“It’s forcing some of our citizens that have lived here — some of them all of their lives — out of their homes,” Moyle told the committee.
His bills have some off-ramps that would allow voters in a taxing district to increase their property taxes.
Finally, Republican Rep. Steven Harris introduced legislation that he said would require taxing districts to be more transparent in how they handle extra money if they collect the maximum allowed but budget less.
Several Democrats on the committee voted against several of the bills and have generally favored other forms of property tax relief.
Now, half the value of a person’s home is exempt from property tax up to $100,000. Democrats have said they would like to lift that cap and reestablish an annual inflation adjustment for the exemption.
Republican Rep. Priscilla Giddings, a committee member, tried to introduce legislation ending sales tax on groceries, but the chairman didn’t allow it. Eliminating the grocery sales tax would cost the state more than $100 million and mean losing that revenue from visitors.