Oil Tax Cuts Fall Flat In North Dakota House


With no debate, outside of bill carrier Rep. Craig Headland explaining his committee’s “do not pass” recommendation for the bill, the most controversial tax bill before this legislature fell flat on its face in the state House today.

The vote was 6-87.

Taxes, I think most would agree, ought to be fair. Meaning they ought to be broad and flat, so that everyone has some skin in the game when it comes to paying for government. I think most also agree that when the government has far more money that it needs – and that accurately describes North Dakota’s state government right now – they ought to give some of that money back in the form of tax relief.

The state House has already passed a big, half-billion income tax relief package for the state’s individuals and businesses. But today they refused to give a little tax relief to the “goose” that is currently laying the state’s “golden eggs.”

That’s extremely short sighted.

Political it might have been the right move. The Democrats, and their allies in the state media, were going to have a field day with Republicans voting to give tax relief to “big oil” playing on the public’s irrational distaste for that industry. So perhaps they did the expedient thing, but five years hence when we’re past the peak of the Bakken oil boom (and at the time when these tax cuts would have kicked in) we may wish this legislature would have had the foresight to pass them.

This debate isn’t over yet, though. HB1234, which is a somewhat similar reduction in oil taxes, has passed the House and is in the Senate.