Tax Relief

Two tax relief payments advance | Native

BOISE — Two incremental tax relief proposals advanced to the Senate floor Thursday, more than a month after they passed in the House.

House Bill 509 would boost the grocery tax credit by $20, from $100 to $120 per person for those younger than 65 and from $120 to $140 for those 65 and older.

House Bill 481, by contrast, amends legislation approved last year that added an asset valuation cap to the circuit breaker property tax relief program.

The measure increases the maximum value of a primary residence that can qualify for the program from 125% of the county median to 150% or $300,000, whichever is greater.

The Senate Local Government and Taxation Committee spent about 15 minutes hearing the two bills before sending them to the Senate floor with favorable recommendations. There was no public testimony in support or opposition to either measure.

Sen. Steve Vick, R-Dalton Gardens, noted the grocery tax credit hasn’t been increased since 2015.

“We’ve certainly seen inflation since then,” he said. “While it is limited tax relief, (HB 509) tries to make sure the grocery tax credit does what it was designed to do, which is to make it so you don’t pay sales tax on food.”

The legislation has an annual cost of about $32 million.

If approved, the increase would take effect in 2023; however, it wouldn’t actually be paid out until people file their state income tax return in 2024.

HB 509 previously passed the House on a 40-27 vote.

HB 481, by comparison, would be retroactive to Jan. 1 — ensuring that hundreds of elderly, low-income Idahoans who otherwise would have lost eligibility to the circuit breaker program will still qualify for up to $1,500 in property tax relief this year.

Rep. Charlie Shepherd, R-Pollock, sponsored the bill. He saw it as an effort to “fix” legislation he voted for last year, which inadvertently disqualified nearly 2,000 people from the program.

“That (legislation) didn’t work out as well as I’d hoped,” he said in January, when the new bill was first introduced.

The circuit breaker program is open to elderly or disabled Idahoans who earn less than about $32,000 per year.

HB 481 was approved 48-16.

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