Governor signs $515 million tax relief legislation bill

Submitted Photo Gov. Doug Burgum signs the tax relief bill as prime sponsor Rep. Craig Headland looks on at left and Sen. Jordan Kannianen at right. Directly behind the governor is Tax Commissioner Brian Kroshus and Senate Majority Leader David Hogue.

Gov. Doug Burgum signed a $515 million tax relief package Thursday that includes savings for state individual income-tax payers and local property-tax payers over the next two years.

Burgum signed House Bill 1158 at a ceremony in the Capitol with the bill’s prime sponsor Rep. Craig Headland of Montpelier, House Majority Leader Mike Lefor of Dickinson, Senate Majority Leader David Hogue of Minot, Tax Commissioner Brian Kroshus and other bill supporters.

“This landmark bill provides the largest individual income-tax relief package in state history and is a huge win for North Dakota taxpayers,” Burgum said. “House Bill 1158 allows workers across all tax brackets to keep more of their hard-earned money while also easing the property tax burden on homeowners and making homeownership more affordable for our senior citizens.”

“It combines $358 million in income-tax relief while also providing $156.7 million in property-tax relief,” Headland said. “This is in addition to the ongoing $1.5 billion in property-tax relief the state provides to local communities. All in, this results in historic tax relief for our citizens.”

“We’re proud to be providing the taxpayers of North Dakota the largest tax relief package in the state’s history,” Hogue said. “This package is meaningful relief for working families and homeowners across the state.”

“The greatest benefit of the plan is that it provides meaningful relief to our state’s lower-income earners and retirees on fixed incomes,” Kroshus said. “Rather than a top-down model, it begins with everyday citizens.”

House Bill 1158 zeroes out the state’s bottom tax bracket and combines the top four brackets into two brackets with reduced tax rates. The two middle income brackets will be taxed at 1.95%, down from 2.04% or 2.27%, and the top two brackets will be taxed at 2.5%, down from 2.64% or 2.9%.

The changes will result in an estimated $104 million in savings for the zeroed-out bottom bracket, $178 million in savings for the combined middle-income brackets and $76 million in savings for the combined top brackets.

The remaining $157 million in the package will be provided as property-tax relief in two ways: $103.2 million will be available to homeowners by allowing them to claim a property-tax credit of up to $500 on their primary residence, and $53.5 million will be provided by expanding the eligibility requirements and maximum reduction for the state’s Homestead Property Tax Credit program for homeowners 65 and older.

House Bill 1158 originated last August when Burgum, Kroshus, Headland and other legislators unveiled a major flat-tax income tax relief plan. The bill was introduced by Headland, who chairs the House Finance and Taxation Committee.

“While this isn’t the flat tax we originally proposed, North Dakota will still be able to claim the lowest income tax rates in the nation among states that have individual income tax, helping us to recruit and retain workers to address our workforce challenges,” Burgum said. “We’re grateful to our legislative partners whose thoughtful work allows North Dakotans to save more than half a billion dollars over the next two years and moves us further down the path toward becoming a zero-income-tax state.”

Sen. Merrill Piepkorn, D-Fargo, and Rep. Zac Ista, D-Grand Forks, noted Democratic-NPL lawmakers were able to get needed changes to the bill, particularly moving away from a flat tax they consider a giveaway to the richest taxpayers.

“Democrats have always fought for a generous Homestead Property Tax credit, and this bill delivers on that goal,” Piepkorn said.

“The bill still has concerning long-term effects,” Ista said. “This bill could have us on the hook for $600 million in ongoing costs and reduced revenues. That’s money that can’t be invested in childcare, healthcare or public education. We already see this session the growing gap between our revenues and our expenses; this bill will only widen that gap. The more we cut income tax, the more dependent we become on oil and gas taxes to make up the difference. That’s risky given the volatility of the oil market.”

The House approved HB 1158 by a vote of 84-6, and the Senate passed it 45-2. The bill also creates a Legislative Tax Relief Advisory Committee to study tax relief, including income and property tax relief, during the 2023-2025 interim. The study will include analysis of the tax relief in HB 1158 and options to implement a flat rate for individual income tax, with findings to be reported to the 2025 Legislature.

The income tax relief in HB 1158 builds on the $211 million in income tax credits approved by the Legislature and signed by Burgum during the November 2021 special session, which previously was the largest income-tax relief package in state history.


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