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On eve of session, fight erupts in push for tax breaks

Posted by: under Minnesota governor, Gov. Mark Dayton, Minnesota legislature, State budgets Updated: February 24, 2014 - 3:06 PM

House Republicans and Democratic legislative leaders are already fighting over a range of tax breaks designed to help middle-class families.

“This is not an issue that should be ignored as tax day is less than two months away,” said Rep. Greg Davids, a Preston Republican who is the GOP lead on the House Taxes Committee.

“After all the wasteful spending projects the Democrats funded during the 2013 session," he said at a news conference Monday, "it’s time for them to spend a portion of our surplus on something that is truly necessary for many Minnesotans: federal tax conformity.”

DFLers who control the House have pushed for a range of tax breaks to match federal tax code for years, even passing a similar package last year that never became law. Democrats noted that they did it without support from Republicans now pressing for many of the same tax breaks now.

“We made tough choices last session to balance our budget honestly and now we have a balanced budget, a growing economy, and an expected surplus,"said House Taxes Committee Chairwoman Ann Lenczewski, DFL-Bloomington. "Middle class tax relief should again be a top priority.”

Both sides are pressing Minnesota to bring its tax code in line with federal tax law, which had reduced taxes for a range of consumers. That has made Minnesota's tax law out of synch. Now Minnesota taxpayers are getting federal breaks for things like adoption costs and company-paid college classes, but not on their state taxes.

Highlighting their priority on the issue, House Democrats scheduled a marathon tax committee hearing Tuesday, the first day of the session, to pour though more than a dozen tax conformity proposals, including a few authored by Republicans.

“This continues to be something the House majority feels very strong about, middle-class tax cuts and simplicity for all Minnesota tax payers,” Lenczewski said.

The proposal has a better chance this year now that DFL Gov. Mark Dayton is also pushing for a similar range of tax breaks.

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