Shocker: North Dakota Chamber Of Commerce Against Tax Relief


Yesterday Rep. Scott Louser’s (R-Minot) idea to suspend the state’s personal income tax for two years got a committee hearing at the legislature. And who was their to testify against it? Our friends from the North Dakota Chamber of Commerce who, despite being an allegedly business-friendly lobbying group, can’t ever seem to find any actual tax relief they like.

And, of course, they’re using a well-worn tactic to oppose Rep. Louser’s idea: Triangulation. You see, the Chamber likes to pretend their for tax relief, just never the tax relief that’s before them. If you propose property tax relief, they say it should be income tax relief. And if you propose income tax relief, they say it’s not property tax relief until you almost get the sense that they don’t really want any tax relief at all:

BISMARCK, N.D. (GPN) – North Dakota’s largest business group is opposing a bill that would suspend the state’s individual

income tax this year and next year.

Bill Shalhoob is a spokesman for the Greater North Dakota Chamber of Commerce. He spoke Monday at a North Dakota House Finance and Taxation Committee hearing on the tax bill.

Dropping the income tax for two years would mean $1 billion less for North Dakota’s treasury. Shalhoob says that’s not sustainable.

He says the tax elimination wouldn’t benefit property taxpayers, or businesses that pay corporate tax.

If adding a suspension of the corporate income tax into this bill is what the Chamber wants, I’m all for it. On property taxes, too, I suppose if the cost of real income tax relief is more meddling in property taxes by the state legislature then let’s do it (though I remain unconvinced the solution to property taxes must come locally). But you really have to admire the audacity of the Chamber of Commerce which seems to be on a mission to hamstring real tax relief measures to keep as much money tied up in state government as possible.

No doubt so that it can be doled out to their membership by way of special economic development favors.

There are a lot of members of the North Dakota Chamber of Commerce who are good conservatives who believe in limited government. These people ought to be re-thinking their membership in that group.

Rob Port is the editor of, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and the host of the Rob (Re)Port on Fargo-based WDAY AM970 from 1-2pm weekdays.

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