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Idaho lawmakers pitch property tax rebates

Republican Mike Moyle and Democrat John Gannon are collaborating on an idea that would allow cities to essentially do what the state is doing with income tax rebates

BOISE, Idaho — It’s an economy of ideas at the statehouse as lawmakers work to find solutions to explosive growth in property tax rates. A new idea is being pitched at the statehouse, allowing local governments to send taxpayers rebates on their property taxes.

“It would allow a city to rebate excess property taxes it has on a voluntary basis and within parameters that the city council chooses,” said Rep. Gannon, a Democrat representing Boise.  

Democrat Rep. John Gannon is co-sponsoring the bill, here is his thought process behind the legislation.

“I think it's a tool that a city can use if it has extra funds and wants to return them.  It's important to keep for local options on property tax relief,” Gannon said.

Republican Rep. Mike Moyle is co-sponsoring the bill, he says with extra funds available to local governments through COVID-19 grants; opening the door to allow rebates only makes sense.

“John's a pretty good hand at finding different out-of-the-box ideas. I think people always assumed they could already do it and this gives them a way to do it,” Moyle said.

The bill would essentially allow cities to do what the state of Idaho is doing with income tax rebates.

“The cities are going to have a ton of money from the CARES Act this year and next year, that bill allows them to give back 10 million: no questions asked. Every city, every county, check the box, you can get them up to 10 million. Some of them will get that much, but it gives them a way to get that money back. This gives the cities the option instead of supporting it or using it to do something else so they can give it back to the taxpayers and help them out. It came from them in the first place,” Moyle said.

The legislation would not mandate anything, it simply allows cities to send rebates, something not specified in the current Idaho code.

“Let our local cities decide. They collect the property taxes, of course, and if there's a window where they can help people in this kind of very stressed area, financially stressed area, then they have the option of doing that. They have the ability to do that,” Gannon said.

As noted, Gannon, a Democrat, is working with Moyle, a Republican, on one of the year's hottest topics in Idaho. Both note that it’s proof that successful collaboration is crucial, even if it isn’t always easy.

“We had a lot of negotiating; the bill was probably re-written at least six times,” Gannon said.

Rep. Moyle says that’s the way it should be.

“We find areas that there is common ground, I think we are exposed and work together to find solutions. We're always looking for solutions and if we got solutions we agree on, we have to work together to accomplish. It's the way things ought to be,” Moyle said.

Moyle and Gannon don’t agree on everything, most people don’t, but on this, they agree: getting money back to Idahoans struggling with property taxes is essential.

“We can give the locals more tools to help give that money back and provide tax relief, and let's do it. This gives them an opportunity if they're so willing to give money back and lower property taxes, so more tools we can give to those who are collecting and spending, I think the better off,” Moyle said.

Moyle and Gannon tell KTVB they will soon introduce legislation to allow Idaho counties to also do a rebate program, just like their cities bill. Currently, counties have some limited options involving hardship exemptions, but the new legislation would simplify that, Gannon and Moyle explained. 

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