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Idaho one of 16 states with no tax policy review process, report shows

Idaho one of 16 states with no tax policy review process, report shows

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Rep. Steve Berch (D, Boise)

Rep. Steve Berch (D, Boise) at the Idaho Capitol on April 6, 2021. 

BOISE — The Idaho Legislature is managing tax policy low on information and with no official process for reviewing exemptions and other tax policies, according to a recent Office of Performance Evaluations report.

Representatives from the Idaho Office of Performance Evaluations presented findings from a request in 2020 made by Reps. Steve Berch, D-Boise, and Rick Youngblood, R-Nampa. Ryan Langrill, principal evaluator for the office, presented the findings of the report to the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Monday afternoon. According to the report, there are 166 or more credits, exemptions or other tax deviations in Idaho’s income, property and sales tax code. Though the Idaho Legislature reviews direct spending every year, there is no process for reviewing those policies in the future.

Langrill said 34 states have a systematic review process for tax policies, including Montana, Oregon and Utah. Those processes include standing joint interim committees, sunset clauses (which put an end date on the proposal) and performance measurements.

The committee voted to create a working group that would examine the creation of a review process for tax exemptions, but it also voted to set parameters and structure to the working group through collaboration with Berch and the other members of the Oversight Committee. Berch said he is hopeful the report will bring changes to the legislative process, and the fact that Youngblood co-sponsored the report with him shows a willingness to work together on both sides of the aisle.

“To have a senior Republican leader join with a freshman Democrat to address policy, I think that’s pretty significant,” Berch said. “It shows an indication that there is a bipartisan recognition that as the fastest growing state in the nation … that this may be a good opportunity for the Legislature to take a more holistic view of fiscal policy. Not just what we spend, but what we choose not to collect as well.”

Read the full report here.

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