Group hopes to cut income taxes

By JONATHAN RIVOLI
Bismarck Tribune

North Dakotans may get a chance to vote next fall to reduce their own state income taxes.

Americans for Prosperity, an advocacy group that promotes low taxes and fiscal conservatism, announced Tuesday that it will be attempting to get such a measure on the ballot.

The proposal calls for a 50 percent reduction in North Dakota’s personal income tax rate and a 15 percent reduction in its corporate tax rate. It would cost the state $280 million over two years, according to Americans for Prosperity.

To get this idea on the ballot, supporters will have to collect at least 12,844 signatures by March 11, 2008, according to the Secretary of State’s Web site.

Duane Sand, a former Republican candidate for the House and Senate who now serves as state director of Americans for Prosperity, said he expects a lot of support for the idea. He said a tax cut would help stimulate business investment in North Dakota and provide a financial incentive to curb population loss.

“We believe people in North Dakota know how to spend their money better (than the government),” Sand said. “And we believe this is going to make the state a better place to live, raise a family and run a business.”

North Dakota’s state income taxes vary from 2.1 percent for those who make less than $30,650 to 5.54 percent for those who make more than $336,550, according to the Tax Foundation, a Washington, D.C. based tax research group. In terms of overall state and local tax burden, North Dakota ranks 37th, according to the group.

“I think most people view the North Dakota income tax as being fair,” said state House Minority Leader Merle Boucher, D-Rolette.

Boucher said the Legislature already provided relief for a bigger problem property taxes when it passed a $120 million tax relief bill in April. That bill provides property tax owners with an income tax rebate equal to 10 percent of their property tax liability.

Boucher also predicted that they measure may not be widely supported because corporations have already received many specifically targeted tax breaks and subsidies in the last few legislative sessions.

“I don’t think people are going to get all that enthused about it, though it’s not at all surprising that there’s a measure or that it’s coming from this group,” Boucher said.

Tax Commissioner Cory Fong told the Associated Press that he could not assess the impact until he sees the proposal.

Because the announcement came at around 5 p.m., other state officials could not be reached for comment.

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