Port: This might be the dumbest tax debate I’ve ever seen


MINOT, N.D. — In Bismarck, our lawmakers are debating two competing tax proposals.

One would reduce North Dakota’s personal income tax brackets to two, with only the top bracket paying any tax at all. It would free roughly 60% of wage-earning North Dakotans from paying the income tax.

The other is a continuation of the property tax buy-down schemes, which lawmakers have spent billions on over the last decade while doing little to ease taxpayer angst over property taxes.

“Right now, North Dakota is providing, every biennium, $1.6 billion to the political subdivisions to help hold down taxes,” Senate Majority Leader David Hogue, a Republican, said at a legislative forum in Minot over the weekend . And what are we getting for all that spending? “The taxes are going up, but they’re going up at a much lower rate, and that is because of the money that we’re putting out to the political subdivisions.”

In summary: Property tax buy-downs are spending, not tax relief. Because despite the billions spent on lowering property taxes, they haven’t gone down. They’re just going up more slowly than they would have.

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