Taxes

reb / Flickr Creative Commons

Tax identity theft is increasing across the country and Idaho is no exception. The number of cases of people using someone else’s name and social security number to file a false tax return more than quadrupled last year in Idaho.

In 2013, there were 74 cases of tax identity theft. Last year, that number jumped to 352 says Idaho Tax Commission's Doreen Warren.

GoSheShe / Flickr Creative Commons

Republican lawmakers in Idaho said there’s still a long road ahead to agreeing on a plan to fix roads and bridges.

But they said a trial balloon sent up this week has succeeded in starting the conversation among normally tax-averse politicians.

On Monday, the House Transportation and Defense transportation committee introduced a proposal to raise the gas tax by 8 cents per gallon and diesel by 12 cents per gallon. Thereafter, those taxes would automatically rise by a penny a year.

Committee chair Joe Palmer sponsored the package.

Idaho Center for Fiscal Policy

Idaho lawmakers are talking behind the scenes about creating a flat-rate income tax and raising the sales tax, a proposal the non-partisan  Idaho Center for Fiscal Policy says would increase taxes for everyone who makes less than $173,000 a year.

Idaho Capitol Dome
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

The non-partisan Idaho Center for Fiscal Policy finds the governor's budget proposal isn't balanced, when taking into account wildfire fighting costs and ongoing expenses. 

The center's analysis shows Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter's recommended budget doesn't include money to pay for last year's $27.7 million firefighting bill. The governor's office says it doesn't budget for wildfires because costs vary from year to year. Instead, lawmakers pay for fire costs the year after they're incurred.

"Depending on what the legislature chooses to do with spending and tax cuts, growth in the economy should cover the fire costs," Otter spokesman Jon Hanian says.

Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

If you’re in a same-sex marriage and you live in Idaho, filing state taxes just got a little simpler.

When the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals legalized gay marriage last year in Idaho, that law change also meant changes at the Idaho Tax Commission and for same-sex couples filing joint tax returns. Now, married same-sex couples will only have to fill out one federal form when they file their taxes, instead of the three that had to be filed under the old rules.

Boise State Public Radio

The Idaho lawmaker who has the power to kill tax bills says there will be no new tax breaks unless beginning teacher salaries boost to $40,000 a year.

Republican Sen. Jeff Siddoway threatened to hold proposed tax cuts hostage in order to get more funding for Idaho's public schools even before the legislative session kicked off on Monday. Siddoway sharpened his demand on Tuesday, saying teacher salaries must increase sooner than what Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter has outlined.

Pew Charitable Trusts

Here’s a new way to measure Idaho’s fiscal health: tax volatility. Idaho is in the top third of most-volatile state tax revenues. That’s according a report released Thursday from the Pew Charitable Trusts, which Pew calls a first-of-its-kind national comparison.

If you haven’t yet clicked away, but you’re about to because reading the phrase ‘tax volatility’ made you think a trip to the dentist or DMV might be pleasant about now, here’s why it’s important.

Nampa and Meridian Irrigation District

The bill you received in mid-October if you live in the Nampa and Meridian Irrigation District is coming due later this month.

Officials are reminding the district’s 38,000 property owners that they have until Dec. 20 to pay the first installment of their irrigation tax bill.

But a more dire reminder has gone out to the owners of 99 properties in the district who are as much as three years behind in their payments.

Irrigation district Secretary-Treasurer Daren Coon says final notices, a follow-up to certified letters that were mailed in August, are now in the mail.

Mikkel Ronne / Flickr

If you’re one of the thousands of Idaho residents who go online to buy things, you’re probably one of the thousands of Idahoans cheating the state out of money.

The state has a little-known – and frequently ignored – companion to the sales tax called the use tax. It’s also hard to enforce, as residents are entrusted with self-reporting their purchases.

“Many people don’t know about the use tax,” said Randy Tilley, who is the administrator of the Idaho Tax Commission’s Audit Division.

money, budget
Tax Credits / Flickr Creative Commons

State officials say Idaho closed the 2014 fiscal year with $7.2 million more than anticipated.

The Idaho Division of Financial Management reports that June's general fund receipts of $294.4 million were $8.4 million above economists' projections. Overall, last month's boost helped raise the final fiscal year totals to $2.81 billion.

That means general fund dollars went up 2.4 percent compared to the previous fiscal year.

A new poll finds Idahoans might not be so tax-averse when it comes to funding improvements to the state's roads and bridges. About 54 percent say the economic benefit is a compelling reason to increase revenue for transportation infrastructure.

liz west / Flickr Creative Commons

Property values in Ada and Canyon Counties went up substantially this year. Chances are, if you own a house here you’ve received a letter from the county assessor saying your home is worth more. In Ada County the average increase was 18 percent.

Idaho Capitol Dome
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

An Idaho tax incentive bill is again bound for the governor's desk after sponsors say they've addressed concerns from the attorney general's office.

The bill, which would give up to 30 percent in tax incentives to job-creating businesses, already passed the Senate Monday.

But Senate leaders called for a revote after the attorney general's office released an opinion saying it could leave Idaho on constitutionally shaky ground.

Idaho Capitol Senate
Emilie Ritter Saunders / StateImpact Idaho

Legislators say they'll change a tax bill before trying it again on the Senate floor, after the attorney general's office said it might leave Idaho on constitutionally shaky ground.

The bill, which would give up to 30 percent in tax incentives to job-creating businesses, cleared the Senate 29-6 Monday.

But that was before Deputy Attorney General Chelsea Kidney released an opinion that giving a seven-member board the final word on who gets tax breaks could result in unequal treatment of identical businesses.

calculator, taxes
401(K)2013 / Flickr Creative Commons

Business leaders worried Idaho's tax rates are too high compared to its neighbors notched an initial victory when the House Revenue and Taxation Committee approved a bill aiming to make the state more competitive.

The Republican-led panel voted Thursday to back the Idaho Chamber Alliance's proposal to cut corporate and individual income tax rates by a percentage point annually over the next six years, for an eventual $125 million cost.

Once completed, it would leave Idaho's top tax rate at 6.8 percent, lower than Montana's 6.9 percent.

Idaho's lackluster quiver of tax incentives make it flyover country for many companies looking to relocate or expand.

That's the verdict of Department of Commerce Director Jeff Sayer, who pitched a plan Friday he says would change that.

Sayer's proposition: What if Idaho allows companies that hire new, well-paid employees to recoup up to 30 percent of their income, sales and payroll taxes after they've proven to have met their expansion promises?

That way, he says, the state would protect itself from companies that don't follow through.

food, groceries, store
Qmnonic / Flickr Creative Commons

Republican lawmakers including Sen. Russ Fulcher aim to eliminate Idaho's 6 percent tax on groceries starting July 1, 2016.

Fulcher, a Meridian Republican running against Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter in the May primary, and Boise Sen. Cliff Bayer are promoting the proposed legislation.

Currently, Idaho gives nearly all its residents a credit when they file their annual tax returns, to offset surcharges they pay on groceries.

This tax credit has been expanded since legislation passed in 2009.

Come next year, it's due to be $100 for everyone, and $120 for seniors.

TelstarLogistics / Flickr Creative Commons

A Republican lawmaker proposes digging into Idaho's sales tax revenue to fund highway and bridge projects.

Rep. Joe Palmer, House Transportation Committee chairman, pitched the idea Monday.

Typically, Idaho pays for roads from fees assessed on gas or vehicle registrations.

Palmer's measure would depart that tradition, but only after Idaho's revenue reaches certain thresholds.

Once general fund income hits $2.91 billion and education funding exceeds $1.4 billion — both pre-recession records — he'd begin taking a slice of the growing sales tax for roads.

House Speaker Scott Bedke says he's met with Idaho's former chief economist over a proposal to shift $80 million from a grocery tax credit to individual and corporate income tax cuts.

Bedke, a Republican from Oakley, met with Mike Ferguson, the top economist at the state under six governors before retiring four years ago.

Bedke's proposes to redirect money now given to Idaho families to offset sales tax they pay on groceries to income tax cuts, in hopes of making Idaho a more-attractive place for businesses to relocate.

taxes, calculator
Dave Dugdale / Flickr Creative Commons

Idaho's former chief economist says families of four earning more than $117,750 would see lower taxes, should lawmakers adopt House Speaker Scott Bedke's proposal to shift money from a grocery tax credit to individual and corporate income tax cuts.

Mike Ferguson, chief economist for six governors including Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter, said Thursday families earning less would likely see a higher tax burden, according to his calculations.

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