By Nick Smith
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ryan Taylor shared his plan for statewide property tax relief on Monday in Bismarck.
Taylor outlined his plan at the Bismarck Public Library at a Monday afternoon press conference.
Taylor said property taxes have been a hot issue in recent months prior to last week's no vote on Measure 2, which would've abolished them in the state. Taylor said despite voters saying no to the measure, a comprehensive solution to the state's property taxes is overdue.
"Quality of life is something we're going to preserve and protect in North Dakota. We can't let that go to the wayside," Taylor said.
Taylor said that his plan would be paid for using funds from the state's budget surplus. "That's the rub with so many North Dakotans. Why are we not putting the surplus to work for North Dakotans?," Taylor said.
Taylor's proposed plan has three components. The first two consist of property tax reductions. A residential property tax reduction would be made available to homeowners in residential areas. An agricultural property tax credit would be made available for farmers.
Both, Taylor said, would be based off of the current homestead tax credit. Residential and agricultural landowners would be able to get a $100,000 reduction in the true and full valuation of their primary residence.
"It's simple and understandable. We're not reinventing the wheel," Taylor said.
He said the estimated cost of providing the tax relief was approximately $254 million. He said of the $254 million, about $170 million would be applied to the residential property tax portion.
Taylor said his plan's final component is for those who live in rental housing. He said the rental portion is primarily aimed at those experiencing sharp increases in monthly rent in the western part of the state. Rental rates in western North Dakota have risen sharply in the past couple of years, fueled by a housing shortage and high demand for housing due to record oil production. Some rents have been reported at $2,000 per month and higher.
The plan would provide a renters income tax credit for up to 15 percent of an individual's annual rent. The tax credit would be capped at $900 for a year. For renters who qualify for the entire $900 tax credit, the money amounts to $75 per month.
Taylor said the level of relief from a $900 tax credit isn't very large for renters in western North Dakota, especially those with rents of well over $1,000 per month.
"It's more than what we've seen come from this governor so far," Taylor said.
Taylor said that the renters income tax credit is only a small part of the solution for the housing issues in western North Dakota. He said to address the housing shortage in the western part of the state more housing needs to be built, both affordable and market rate housing units.
Amanda Godfread, communications director for Gov. Jack Dalrymple's election campaign, said in a statement that Dalrymple worked with the Legislature last session to deliver $500 million in tax relief to North Dakotans.
"Going forward, Governor Dalrymple has pledged even more broad-based tax cuts that benefit all taxpayers," Godfread said. "Tax relief should not be limited to certain taxpayer subgroups, nor should it burden the taxpayer with more paperwork."
Taylor said if he's elected in November he intends on moving forward in working with the Legislature to implement the plan.
"It's one of the first things we would put before the Legislature," Taylor said.
He said despite the vote against Measure 2, property taxes are likely to be a key issue during the next legislative session come January.
"I don't think anyone should believe this issue will go away," Taylor said.