‘The great property tax debate’: petition to abolish property tax now circulating in ND

Published: Jul. 6, 2023 at 3:06 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 7, 2023 at 9:02 AM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

WILLISTON, N.D. (KUMV) - Property taxes have been a big-button issue for both the state legislature and homeowners this year. Soon, voters may have the chance to get rid of them completely.

Property tax has many uses for local governments and school districts, including supporting first responders and infrastructure projects. If a recently approved measure petition makes its way to the ballot next year, North Dakota could be the first state without property taxes.

The measure, if passed by voters, would prohibit political subdivisions from levying on property except for existing bonds. Former state representative Rick Becker is leading the petition, saying it’s an immoral tax with little control.

“It’s inconceivable to me that it is acceptable morally that someone can be kicked out of a home they bought because they aren’t paying money to the government,” said Becker.

Without property tax, it would be up to the state to pay out the lost revenue to the subdivisions every year. It’s predicted that could cost the state more than a billion dollars a year. Becker said he will soon release a report showing the state will be able to cover that price.

“If we do away with [wasteful spending] and use some of the legacy fund earnings and operation prairie dog funds, we can easily come up with the $1 billion to replace property taxes on an annual basis without having any loss of the important services that we receive,” said Becker.

However, some legislators said it will create new challenges at the local and state levels.

“How can you build a school district if you can’t bond for it? How are you going to build a school building? Is the state going to make that decision then on who gets to have a building and it’s going to be based on what we can afford?” said Rep. David Richter, R-Williston.

Legislators passed what they call the biggest tax cut in state history this year, giving homeowners a $500 tax credit and improving the Homestead Property Tax Credit for seniors. While it received overwhelming bipartisan support in the legislature, Becker argued it does very little.

“The fact that they could only give us two years of property tax relief for a value of $500 per homeowner is frankly pitiful. It’s why we as the people of North Dakota need to take the power into our own hands,” said Becker.

Becker said he’s committed to a grassroots effort to gather signatures. He said his goal is to have at least 45,000 signatures before the deadline.

Circulators will need just under 32,000 signatures to make it to the ballot. They’re due on June 29, 2024.