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Talk about wrong priorities. Earlier this month the Idaho House of Representatives approved a bill that hands the state’s wealthiest 1 percent a tax cut of about $2,600, while giving more than 80 percent of Idaho families precisely nothing.
In a new analysis, the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) estimates that over half of the plan’s benefits would flow to the richest one percent of taxpayers, and four-fifths of the benefits would go to the best-off five percent of Idaho residents.
While it might seem like a bill stacked so blatantly in favor of the wealthy would be a tough sell in an election year, it actually has a real chance of passage. The bill passed the House by a convincing 49-20 margin, it’s a top priority of Governor Butch Otter, and the state’s business lobbyists are tickled pink, referring to the cut as “manna from heaven.”
Fortunately, the plan does have some influential opponents. The Chair of the House tax-writing committee complained about the long-term affordability of the plan, saying “That’s one-time money that we’re doing ongoing tax relief with…I don’t think it works.” Meanwhile, the chair of the Senate’s tax committee is also cool to the idea, thanks in part to the very minimal (or even nonexistent) benefits it would provide to most families.
Supporters of the bill have predictably tried to rationalize its lopsided impact by claiming it will benefit the state’s economy, but as ITEP and Idaho-based analysts have pointed out, these claims amount to little more than a modern day snake oil sales pitch.