Nearly 1 million Minnesotans could see more tax relief

  • Article by: BAIRD HELGESON , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 9, 2014 - 6:39 AM

A $103 million tax relief package has bipartisan support in the Legislature.

Nearly 1 million Minnesotans will get $103 million in new tax breaks as part of an agreement among legislative leaders on Thursday, with more than half devoted to direct property tax relief for homeowners, farmers and renters.

“We wanted to do it as direct as possible,” said state House Taxes Committee chairwoman Ann Lenczewski, DFL-Bloomington. Homeowners, renters and farmers will get “supersized” rebates this year.

House and Senate DFL leaders have been working for weeks to agree on a tax relief package using the remainder of the state’s $1.2 billion projected budget surplus.

House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, said there is strong bipartisan support for tax relief this session. He has not reviewed the measure in detail, but expects it to have at least some Republican support.

About 940,000 homeowners, renters and farmers would get additional tax breaks as part of the new measure.

Legislators earmarked $17 million in property tax relief for more than 90,000 farmers. The average farmer in Minnesota would get $410 in direct property tax relief, an increase of about $200.

Homeowners would share $12.1 million in property tax relief and renters would get an additional $12.5 million in property tax breaks for the year.

“There is a good balance of tax relief for everyone,” said Senate Taxes Committee chairman Rod Skoe, DFL-Clearbrook.

Legislators are devoting $4.5 million this year and $10 million next year to control invasive species at public-access boat landings.

The House and Senate also want to create a pilot project to help retain and recruit volunteer first-responders. Volunteers in 14 qualifying counties would get a $500 stipend to stay with their squad.

Military income paid to National Guard members, whether active duty or reserve, would be tax free under the proposal.

Parents of students who struggle with reading could get a tutoring credit of up to $2,000 a year. The proposal also would change the timing of when businesses can submit sales tax payments, easing cash flow problems for many businesses.

The measure also includes more than 80 pages of refinements and changes to clean up the tax code. Modernizing the state’s tax law is part of Gov. Mark Dayton’s major government streamlining, launched earlier this year.

The measure does not include an expansion of the child care credit, a provision Dayton has pushed for strongly.

The governor wants to expand the child tax credit to all families, not just low-income families. Doing so would increase the costs from $15 million a year to nearly $74 million.

House Speaker Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, said the tax credit is good policy, but too expensive to tackle this legislative session.

The House and Senate are expected to pass the measure next week with bipartisan support.

This is the second tax relief measure of the session. All told, more than 2 million Minnesotans will get a total of $550 million in tax relief if the new measure becomes law.

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