Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Nixon, Hulshof Continue Property Tax Debate

While Kenny Hulshof's property tax cut plan centers solely on freezing rising assessments, Jay Nixon offers an approach with several different components.

Nixon plans to eliminate the so-called "marriage penalty." Under the current tax code, singles can qualify for a tax credit if they earn $27,500. For couples, it's $29,500. Nixon's argument is this: If a single senior earning $27,000 qualifies for the tax credit, then certainly a married couple making $30,000 should also qualify. Under Nixon's plan, the income threshold would be similar to Hulshof's assessment parameter ($52,000 for both.)

Hulshof's plan does not include an elimination of the marriage penalty. His team says it's not meant to be based on any tax credit. "Whether you're single or married, it freezes," said Hulshof campaign manager John Hancock.

The Nixon campaign is also critical of Hulshof's plan because they claim --- by freezing property assessments --- it would take away money from public schools. The "indefinite freeze" also riles the Nixon camp because schools operate on budgets that increase every year. Won't this hurt revenue for local schools, they ask? Hancock said Hulshof's proposal would give lawmakers the option. Either the county governments can decide to take the hit and pay for it --OR -- the state would write a refund check each year directly to residents.

Hancock said Hulshof would leave it up to the legislative process to hash out those details.

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