Like it or not, Idaho legislators will be forced in their 2006 session to finally do something about tax laws. A taxpayer revolt is brewing and unless lawmakers take charge, they could find the public making tax law changes at the ballot box and thus reducing the Legislature's authority.
Lawmakers can't complain they lack ideas. A joint House and Senate tax study committee is touring the state, listening to taxpayers' complaints and suggested changes.
The team will stage hearings at 1 p.m. Aug. 10 in the Community Campus (old Wood River High School) in Hailey. Taxpayers with solutions as well as gripes should use the opportunity to speak to men and women with power to make changes.
Blaine County especially needs relief. Property assessments are skyrocketing because of the boom in luxury second homes, pricing many working families out of the real estate market and creating a personnel-recruiting crisis for businesses and public agencies.
The challenge for lawmakers this time is to provide genuine remedies for an out-dated property taxing system, and to defy business interests that have had the upper hand in quashing relief for taxpayers.
Solutions may come in different forms, including impact fees on developments, real estate transfer taxes, "look back" taxes on agriculture land sold for development, personal property taxes on agriculture, and expanded local option taxes for cities and counties.
What is not an option, however, is once again postponing a reprieve for taxpayers who are bearing crushing tax burdens.