June 19, 2020
Idaho Governor Brad Little announced a $200 million plan to reduce property taxes. In a press conference on June 5, 2020, Little expressed hope that property owners will put the savings into the struggling economy. The governor’s Coronavirus Financial Advisory Committee (CFAC) approved the allocation on June 12.
According to Governor Little, property tax relief is a way to stimulate spending quickly:
“The longer there’s no money in people’s pockets – taxpayers, consumers, all businesses, large businesses – the longer it’s going to take for us to get back where we want to be.”
In March, the governor extended the payment deadline for Idaho property taxes to June 15 by executive proclamation. In response to the COVID-19 public health crisis, Little also extended the application deadline for the property tax deduction (PTR) program, Property Tax Deferral, and 100 percent Service-connected Disabled Veteran Benefit was extended to June 15. These programs reduce property tax bills for qualified homeowners 10 to 20 percent. In total, taxpayers will save an estimated $200 million.
Cities and counties expressed concern about the reduction in revenues. Public safety, including fire, EMS, and police department payrolls, are funded by property tax revenues. In order to meet this concern, the newest tax relief plan will cover these expenses.
Little said, “Our focus is to support our communities and our police, fire, and EMS personnel and ensure there are no reductions in public safety during these unprecedented challenges.”
Little wants to pay the salaries of public safety salaries for counties and cities that do not use property taxes for EMS, police department, and fire department payrolls. If governments verify cooperation, the plan will cover 103 percent of the personnel costs, providing a monetary incentive to taxing authorities. Funding for the property tax relief plan will come from the $1.25 billion Idaho received as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act).
These changes are temporary as a response to the challenges the state is facing due to the coronavirus pandemic. Senate President Pro Temp Brent Hill expressed hope that this interim solution will encourage the Idaho state legislature to pass a long-term property tax relief bill.