Sweeping property tax relief bill approved by House committee

A committee in the Minnesota House has approved a sweeping property tax bill that would provide property tax relief to 300,000 homeowners.

The bill approved by the House Property Tax Committee would increase aid to cities and counties, provide direct aid to homeowners with high property taxes and provide tax cuts to renters.

DFL Rep. Paul Marquart of Dilworth said the bill will help senior citizens stay in their homes. "It's not business as usual. It's not just we're going to make all of these cuts to local government aid or eliminate the homestead credit and say, 'well that isn't going to have any impact on folks,'" Marquart said. "You have, Mr. Chairman, taken leadership and said enough is enough. We are going to provide property tax relief."

Republicans criticized the bill because they say it unfairly targets businesses in the state. They also argue that the property tax relief in the bill is being paid for by income tax hikes on top earners.

Rep. Paul Torkelson, R-Hanska, said the property tax relief would be paid for with higher income taxes on top earners.

"Those dollars come from somewhere. They don't fall from heaven. They are created within the tax system within this state," Torkelson said. "We all know that taxes are being raised in other places to fund these programs. This causes higher taxes in one pocket while we put relief into another pocket."

The bill would also tax companies that mine silica sand used in mining, provides tax breaks for the Mall of America and 3M in Maplewood and allows the city of Bemidji to increase local taxes to pay for the city's community center.

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