Idaho Moves Forward with Federal Land Tax Assessment Plan

BOISE (AP) – A single company responded to a call from Idaho lawmakers looking for a third party to assess federal lands in real time to find out how much money the state would receive in property taxes if the lands were private.

Idaho is about 63% of federal Crown lands, but these lands are not taxable by local governments. Earlier this year, the legislature tasked the Committee on Federalism to determine how much revenue these lands would bring in if they were.

Committee lawmakers on Thursday expressed concern over the low number of responses to their plan, but took the next step to authorize a request for proposals that could lead to hiring a tech company for the job.

“It appears to be very specialized,” Republican Rep. Judy Boyle said. “Have we publicized enough? Or are there just not that many companies doing it? “

Julie Weaver, who works in the Idaho attorney general’s office in a section involving contracts, told lawmakers it was not clear. The state initially issued what is called a Request for Information, or RFI, and is now issuing a Request for Proposal, or RFP.

“Some companies choose not to respond to RFIs,” Weaver said. “That doesn’t mean they won’t respond to a tender, but I don’t know if there is another supplier.”

The committee, which deals with state sovereignty issues, allowed the state to receive requests for proposals for the next eight weeks, a period that could attract more business.

“I would like to get as much competition as possible and make sure there are others looking at this, not just one,” said Republican Rep. Sage Dixon, co-chair of the committee.

Weaver said the RFP allows vendors to come up with a pilot project because funding is limited. The eight-week deadline will come after the 2022 legislative session begins in January, and lawmakers could increase the amount of money available.

The current project budget is $ 250,000.

“It is probably still pending whether we would seek additional funds or try to move forward with other legislation,” said Republican Senator Steve Vick, the other co-chair of the committee.

“I am sure that with enough money there will be more to come to the table,” said Republican Senator Carl Crabtree.

U.S. Home Secretary Deb Haaland announced in June that a federal program called PILT, or payment in lieu of taxes, would send $ 530 million this year to help counties pay for continued community services. Idaho received $ 34.5 million, but some state lawmakers say Idaho should receive more.

In April, the legislature approved a concurrent resolution directing the committee to determine how much money federal public lands would generate in property taxes if they were owned by individuals.

The resolution does not say what the committee should do with this information once it is obtained.

The action by Idaho lawmakers is accompanied by legislation introduced by a U.S. Senate committee in March by the state’s two Republican senators. Senators Jim Risch and Mike Crapo proposed legislation to determine each year the value of land covered by the LTIP program, the amount of tax revenue the land would generate if it were owned by individuals, and how payments to states might reflect more. precisely these tax revenues.

This bill did not get out of committee.

U.S. lawmakers on both sides have occasionally challenged the LTIP program and its payments, especially western states such as Idaho with significant federal land.

Payments are made annually by the Home Office and its agencies, including the Bureau of Land Management. The payments also cover federal lands administered by the US Forest Service and other agencies.

Payments are calculated based on the number of acres of federal land in each county or jurisdiction and the population of that county or jurisdiction.

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