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Tax relief plan not superficial

By Staff | Sep 26, 2014

I’m writing in response to Mr. Berginski’s recent column concerning my tax relief proposal. I strongly disagree with his claims that this tax relief plan is superficial. I would hardly call $1.138 billion superficial tax relief. This is money that is going to go back into the hands of all North Dakota residents.

The income tax relief I proposed simplifies and condenses the tax brackets to just one rate: 2.52 percent. That is a 21 percent cut in the tax rate alone, which is more than was enacted in the last session. Besides the rate cut, everyone would enjoy the same exemption off their taxable income; $40,000 for single, $80,000 for married. Keep in mind this is off your taxable income. Adjusting the numbers for gross income would exempt $50,000 for single and $100,000 for married. This proposal would eliminate any North Dakota income tax liability for the bottom 57 percent of all income tax filers and those with income above the exemption levels would still enjoy a rate cut on that income. I’d also like to note that tens of thousands of businesses pay tax at the individual rates so my plan is not only good for all individuals but for businesses as well.

Berginski’s claim that my proposal would set property tax rates at 12 percent is blatantly wrong. I proposed the legislature make permanent the 12 percent property tax credit that was enacted as a temporary relief in the last session. Making this permanent would prevent everyone’s property taxes from going up after last session’s relief expires. On top of making the 12 percent credit permanent, I proposed excluding from property tax the first $75,000 of assessed value of everyone’s homestead ($125,000 exclusion if you are age 65+). For those that do not own a home, I proposed a rental income tax credit to provide relief to our renters. It’s only fair that all residents living here and contributing to our prosperity share in and receive property tax relief.

Our state is currently stockpiling tax dollars and playing a shell game by placing them in various funds. There is ample money in the state to provide for meaningful tax relief and make the necessary infrastructure improvements around the state.

My plan levels the playing field with taxes and treats everyone equally. Most importantly it is aimed at working families, small businesses and retirees – those who built up our state and those who continue to build and expand our economy. Without them we wouldn’t be where we are at today. If we are going to attract and retain a skilled workforce in our state then we need to have a tax policy that is attractive to the working families and small businesses and I feel my proposal is a step in the right direction.

Jason Astrup, Fargo

Candidate for tax commissioner

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