A House committee discussed a bill Friday that would require annual property tax statements to identify how much property tax relief was provided through state appropriation.
The House Political Subdivisions Committee heard about 40 minutes of testimony in favor of House Bill 1242. No one gave any opposing testimony to the bill.
HB1242 would require annual property tax billing statements to include for the current taxable year and the previous two years the amount of property tax relief provided by state appropriation.
Rep. Ben Koppelman, R-West Fargo, outlined the bill to the committee.
“It’s pretty black and white,” Koppelman said. “The intent of this bill … is to identify what is being taxed locally and what is being bought down.”
Koppelman said with the property tax mill levy buydowns approved during the last two legislative sessions, most taxpayers don’t know the direct impact on them. He said this bill would clearly show what the state has done and where local political subdivisions are going in terms of taxation.
Koppelman said Cass County is the only county that to date has broken out where a property owner’s taxes come from.
Rep. Alex Looysen, R-Jamestown, asked Koppelman about the Cass County property tax statements.
“Do you know how much additional work it took to figure this (information) out?” Looysen said.
Koppelman said he was unaware of how much added work it created.
Terry Traynor with the North Dakota Association of Counties said HB1242 could provide more clarification for property owners on the content of the bills.
“There is a lack of understanding,” Traynor said.
Traynor said the committee should consider the workload challenges it could present to county auditors. He said updating of software systems in order to include the information on billing statements also would need to be considered.
He said that in crafting a consistent tax statement form for statewide use, it should be designed in a way not to confuse taxpayers.
“If we just keep adding (information) we’re adding to the confusion,” Traynor said.
Marcy Dickerson, state supervisor of assessments for the North Dakota Tax Department, said the department is in favor of HB1242.
“We would be very happy to work with any interested parties,” Dickerson said. She said there would be a fiscal impact for software companies adjusting their software to handle changes to the tax statements. Dickerson said she was unsure how much the cost would be.
No action was taken on HB1242 Friday. Sponsoring HB1242 along with Koppelman are Reps. Thomas Beadle, R-Fargo, Mark Dosch, R-Bismarck, Brenda Heller, R-Beulah, Jim Kasper, R-Fargo, Lisa Meier, R-Bismarck, Mark Owens, R-Grand Forks, and Karen Rohr, R-Mandan, and Sens. Spencer Berry, R-Fargo, Tim Flakoll, R-Fargo, Lonnie Laffen, R-Grand Forks, and Donald Schaible, R-Mott.