Crying foul on property tax relief

North Dakota State Roundup

Published September 1, 2008  | September 2008 issue

Back in 2007, the state Legislature authorized a property tax relief plan worth $120 million. To date, it has benefited some 180,000 tax filers to the tune of more than $40 million, but has ruffled some feathers along the way.

Homeowners, businesses and farmers were eligible for an income tax credit equal to 10 percent of their local property tax bills and limited to $500 for individuals and $1,000 for married couples. About 27,000 filers took their credit as a certificate, which they can redeem in any year of their choosing.

But the connection to the income tax eliminates certain individuals from getting property tax relief, including landowners who do not live in North Dakota (and thus pay no income tax to the state) and landholders who own property through a trust, farm corporation or farm partnership, which is very common.

Gov. John Hoeven has proposed dumping this income-tax-based property credit for a $200 million plan that achieves property tax relief by increasing aid to schools in a dollar-for-dollar buydown of local property taxes.

Ronald A. Wirtz