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Anti-Taxpayer Proposal of the Week

1 min readBy: Scott Hodge

Like most states, Idaho is facing a budget shortfall for FY 2011. Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter is proposing a balanced budget for the year that does not include a taxA tax is a mandatory payment or charge collected by local, state, and national governments from individuals or businesses to cover the costs of general government services, goods, and activities. increase, but he is proposing to use roughly $175 million from the State’s three reserve funds to close the budget gap.

While Idaho taxpayers may be cheered to learn they are not facing a tax hike, they may not be too pleased to learn that the Governor wants to spend $1.5 million of the State’s “Budget Stabilization Fund” on the Idaho Tax Commission in order to chase down non-payers and close the “tax gapThe tax gap is the difference between taxes legally owed and taxes collected. The gross tax gap in the U.S. accounts for at least 1 billion in lost revenue each year, according to the latest estimate by the IRS (2011 to 2013), suggesting a voluntary taxpayer compliance rate of 83.6 percent. The net tax gap is calculated by subtracting late tax collections from the gross tax gap: from 2011 to 2013, the average net gap was around 1 billion. .”

According to the Governor’s Budget Highlights (section A-7) (PDF):

  • The Governor recommends a transfer in the amount of $1,500,000 from the Budget Stabilization Fund (BSF) to the Tax Commission. Per S 1227 of the 2009 Legislative Session, the Governor has the authority to transfer funds from the BSF to any Executive Branch agency receiving General Fund for the purpose of Personnel Costs during FY 2010.
  • The Governor recommends ongoing General Fund monies totaling $1.5 million to the Tax Commission to support auditors hired to help close the tax gap between what is collected in tax revenue and what could be collected from non-payers.

It’s ironic, to say the least, that Governor Otter would propose spending some of the state’s rainy day fund—which is like a savings account for past surplus tax dollars—to squeeze even more money out of Idaho citizens all in the name of avoiding a tax hike.