Petition led by Rick Becker to get measure on ND ballot to eliminate property tax

Published: Jun. 21, 2023 at 7:53 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - Homeowners often complain about property taxes. Someday soon, they could be paying a lot less — in fact, nothing at all. That’s because there’s a petition circulating to get a measure on the ballot to do away with property tax — for good.

Whether you’re a first-time home buyer or someone with multiple properties, property taxes can be spendy.

“They’re a lot more expensive than I thought they would be,” said a Bismarck resident.

“Property taxes have gone up, like, 600% on the lake cabin in 20 years. Obviously, the property isn’t worth 600% more than we paid for it,” said Patrick Sanders of Bismarck.

That’s why former state representative Rick Becker is hoping to do something about it.

“We are looking at putting a measure on the ballot in 2024 that will eliminate all property taxes. That’s number one; number two, it would require the legislature to replace what was generated in property tax revenue by all the cities and counties,” said Becker.

Replacing property tax revenue with existing state revenues would cost the state about a billion dollars per year.

“We have the money there, we just need to redirect it. The legislature has not been interested in doing that, and so the citizens of North Dakota are saying, ‘We want this done and you will make ends meet, according to what’s necessary,’” said Becker.

Of course, this comes on the heels of the biggest tax cut in North Dakota history. For example, seniors living in Bismarck will already pay up to $2,800 less in property taxes going forward. But Becker says, that’s not good enough.

“It wasn’t nearly enough. It’s the biggest tax cut in history. I guess that sounds big, but it’s not big. When you consider that at the end of this week, it’s the end of our biennium, I believe there’s something on the order of a $2.5 billion excess revenue. $2.5 billion sitting there,” said Becker.

But even people who pay thousands a year for property taxes aren’t sure if they’re on board with Becker’s ballot initiative.

“I think people should pay property tax, but I just don’t think it should be as much as it is right now,” said a Bismarck resident.

“To weigh in on that, yeah, I’d love to not have property taxes. But what’s the trade?” said Sanders.

The tax cuts this legislative session had the backing of the governor and received overwhelming bipartisan support in the legislature. Only eight of 141 lawmakers voted against it.

Becker and the petition circulators need to get just under 32,000 signatures, but they’re aiming for about 45,000. If they get enough, depending on when they hand in the signatures, it could be on the election ballot in June or November of 2024.