Property Tax Relief on Its Way
What Does That Mean?
Property tax relief is on the way for Idaho homeowners after the legislature overrode a veto from Governor Brad Little. House Bill 292 will eliminate March election dates for school districts but will send $100 million to schools to help them pay down bonds and levies. The revamped legislation was shored up with a trailer bill, ensuring the distribution of Idaho tax funds for highway projects. Senate Republicans say the override was not about taking sides but doing what they believe is in Idahoans’ best interest. As property taxes have been rising alarmingly, property owners should see some relief reflected in December’s property tax bill.
What It Means to Idahoans
Let me repeat: Property tax relief is coming for Idaho homeowners. This bill will eliminate the March elections. This caused Governor Little to veto it because he had a soft spot in his heart. Bless his heart.
For the school system, the industrial education complex, he said, “We don’t want to get rid of the March elections for school bond levies and bonds, [that’s why he vetoed it] but the legislature came back and said, ‘No, no, that’s going to go,’ and we need to give property tax relief to property owners in Idaho, and we should see that reflected in December’s tax bill.”
Idaho’s Senate overrides Governor Brad Little’s veto. Here’s a little bit of commentary from Senator Chris Trakel, who’s from Caldwell:
“Our Idaho residents have been clamoring for property tax cuts for a very, very, very long time.”
He told Senator shortly before the override vote, “We are extremely close to making that happen for once, for the first time in a long time. So remember who you are here to work for. Is it the schools? Is it Brad Little?”
But here’s a Democrat, one of the few we have in our legislature. Senator Melissa Wintrow was the only person to argue against overriding the veto. She had reservations about eliminating the state’s March election, where many school districts run elections for school bonds and levies. She said, “Because it is 80% of the bonds and levies that get passed are at that time.”
Remember that 80% of the bonds and levies get passed in the March election. The only thing in the March election is the school bonds and levies. There are no other primaries, other mayors, gubernatorial, whatever. So it’s just for those. And it doesn’t get the prominence that more major elections get.
So, the fewer people that turn out will reflect one way or the other. It reflects how the schools like it because 80% of their bonds and levies get passed at that point.
The March election date will now be eliminated with the override. In the past, under current Idaho law, there were four specific dates on the calendar where schools can run elections: March, May (when we have our primaries), August, and November (when the general election happens).
Why Are They Doing It?
The “Oh, it’s for the children.” statement doesn’t fly anymore. Just a couple of weeks ago, in March 2023, five of the seven school bonds failed. What had the potential to be a historic election day with more than $1 billion on the line did not break any records because statewide voters rejected more than 70% of the ask, approving only 274 million in school funding as opposed to the whole enchilada with over a billion bucks.
Well, What's Going on There?
It could be that more and more conservatives are coming to Idaho, saying, “We want fiscal conservative values from our government.” They might also say, “We won’t vote for these bonds.”
And you know what? The most significant part of property taxes goes to schools. So if you vote for school bonds, that increases your property taxes. You can’t vote for school bonds and then complain about property taxes going up because you did it. So, these conservatives probably say, “Hey, there has to be a better, more accountable way.”
And, of course, schools will get their money from other mechanisms if they’re not getting them from the bonds and levies. Those mechanisms might include your representative having more of a say. That could be a good thing.
Going back to the rest of what happened. This is from Senator Nichols, a very conservative Republican in the Senate. She had been in the Idaho House in Boise and said one day ago, “Today, the House Senate of Republicans came together for the win. The Senate overrode the governor’s veto on property tax relief.”
And you only see a little of this in the news. It took some work to find this, but Senator Nichols said, “This bill will provide homeowners with a property tax reduction of 13% for the initial year and declining at 10% in subsequent years.”
She added, “So if you’re paying $2,500, you would save about 325 bucks. Also, the March election date would be eliminated.” So what does that mean?
Property Tax Assessment
Let me break down my property tax statement for my house over the years. In 2020, it was over $1,000 before it increased to $2,297. Last year, my property tax payment was $2,368. This is a pretty average house, nine years old now.
Let’s look at the next page. This is from our friends over at WalletHub’s 2023’s property tax rates by state. Idaho is at number 14 on the list of property tax paid annually; it was $244,900 worth of a home. That doesn’t make a lot of sense.
Now, I look at the annual taxes column, which is about the property taxes based on the median value of homes. Looking at the value of some of the homes in Alabama, they’re only paying $646. So it is interesting how all these states with very cheap housing are in the South, and the property tax by state isn’t all that high. But then, so we’re currently at $1,682.
So if we go by what Tammy Nichols said about property tax deduction, we can take off that $325, bringing us down to around $1,300. That puts Idaho’s median value between Indiana and Kentucky — certainly in the top 10 of the cheapest places for property taxes in the entire country.
Property Tax: Oregon
Oregon comes in at $3,352, $2,000 more a year for property taxes.
Property Tax: Washington
At Washington state, it’s $375.
Property Tax in California
In California, it’s $427. California is $3,000 a year more for property taxes than Idaho will be now that we’ve passed this relief.
Isn’t that wild? And with the relief, we also have more accountability for what schools spend money on. Schools need money and have big jobs, but it could be problematic if no one’s keeping an eye on the books.
Anyway, hey, thanks for watching. If you liked this video, please hit that little thumbs-up button, subscribe to the channel, share this with somebody that needs to see it, or contact us.
Call us if you’re coming up this spring for your fact-finding trip in Idaho. We want to get you on the calendar. We want to take you out, have a great time, and explore what the Treasure Valley is all about.
Well, that’s it for this time. It’s Treasure Valley Dave. As always, looking forward to helping you get home.