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Now time for significant property tax relief, residents seeking action

It is time for the state legislature to focus on property tax relief and reform. In light of the debate on the Measure 2 property tax elimination amendment on last June’s ballot, it is clear that North Dakotans want action on this issue. The time for the legislature to act is now.

The Greater North Dakota Chamber is calling for a one-third reduction in property taxes, which would lower taxes from approximately 1.5 percent of value to about 1 percent of value.

We also believe all property owners should know exactly how much the state is paying to buy down their property taxes. Although the state has been subsidizing property taxes since 2007, it is difficult for taxpayers to understand exactly what and how much relief the state has provided. It is very frustrating for those who have experienced increasing property taxes despite this relief, either because their property values have gone up or political subdivisions have increased their taxes.

There is a simple fix to this problem - require all counties to clearly show the state’s contribution on property tax statements. The Chamber is supporting legislation which requires these disclosures.

Based on the record number of property tax relief and reform bills introduced this session, it is clear legislators are determined to provide property tax relief. But, with only half of this legislative session remaining, the challenge is agreeing on the best plan. The Governor wants to use the school funding formula - a very good plan that has some minor challenges. Others want homestead credits. There are many capable people in the legislature, and I am confident they will determine which bill or combination of bills will work.

Although we appreciated the Measure 2 proponent’s efforts to highlight North Dakotan’s desire for property tax relief, the Greater North Dakota Chamber campaigned to defeat Measure 2 last June because its proponents offered a plan without a plan. Yet, the bigger issue of property tax relief and reform remains.

Legislators know they must act. Now is the time. I encourage all North Dakotans to contact their legislators to thank them for their dedication and encourage them to get the job done.