Idaho House passes $200 million tax-cut bill

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The Idaho House passed a $200 million tax cut bill on a party line vote last Tuesday.

HB 463 contained the biggest tax cut House Majority Leader Mike Moyle says he has seen during his nearly 20 years at the legislature and in Idaho’s history.

Floor debate over the tax cutting bill lasted over an hour and a half. Several legislators debated adding a section to the bill to remove the sales tax on groceries. Moyle said this tax cut bill does not eliminate the opportunity for a bill to remove the grocery tax.

Rep. Heather Scott, R-Blanchard, moved to send the bill to general orders to modify it by adding an elimination to the grocery tax. That motion failed in a 24-46 vote.

Moyle called Scott’s motion a “hostile move against the bill,” to which she responded, “This is not a hostile debate. The citizens of Idaho want a grocery tax repeal.”

Rep. Ronald Nate, R-Rexburg, moved to vote on the bill’s federal conformity portion separately from its changes to income taxes. It failed in an 18-52 vote.

“While this bill is a good start to tax reduction, there’s a lot more that could be done…,” Nate said. While debating on removing the grocery tax, he said. “We have the ability to do both. The question is, do we have the will to do both?”

The tax cut bill would conform to federal changes to income taxes, which are estimated to add roughly $97.4 million to state revenues. But, overall it is expected to result in a $200 million tax cut by reducing state income taxes by .475 percent for individuals and businesses. It also includes a $130 child tax credit, which was the subject of much debate from Democrats who don’t believe it is enough.

“The bill is contrary to 50 years of tax history because it eliminates a long standing, long accepted, dependent child deduction,” said Rep. John Gannon, D-Boise. “It fails to adequately replace that decision and the result is a tax increase for Idaho families with children.”

Analysis from the Idaho Center for Fiscal Policy released Tuesday said HB 463 would result in a average annual tax cut of $55 for the middle 20 percent of Idaho households and over $4,000 for the top 1 percent of income earning households.

HB 463 moves to the Senate, where it must pass a Senate committee and the full Senate before being sent to the governor’s desk.

– Kyle Pfannenstiel covers the 2018 Idaho Legislature for the University of Idaho McClure Center for Public Policy Research.

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