MN Senate passes GOP tax bill that delays payments

A business sign reads "closed until April 1."
Like many area businesses, a garden center, Wagners, in Minneapolis has shuttered until next month in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Luke Taylor | MPR

The Minnesota Senate passed legislation Thursday designed to help struggling businesses by extending tax deadlines.

Supporters of the $327 million measure say it will assist business owners as they attempt to recover from COVID-19 closures. The vote was 40-27, with a handful of DFL lawmakers joining Republicans who hold the majority.

“The intent is to have aggressive recovery and rehabilitation, get people back to work, get the economy going. And it is essential as all of you know,” said Sen. Roger Chamberlain, R-Lino Lakes, who chairs the taxes committee.

Under the bill, the deadline for paying the statewide business property tax would be pushed back 60 days. Estimated tax payment installments and accelerated sales tax payments are delayed, as are payments for S-Corporations, partnerships and C-corporations.

Chamberlain said shifting tax revenue from the current fiscal year to the next will also help the state.

“The modest number is $327 million in the estimate here that will return probably twice as much in economic activity and revenue,” he said.

The bill also provides some tax breaks for families with school-age children, farmers, and people who make charitable donations. Low property wealth school districts would also benefit.

Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-East Gull Lake, said the bill could provide immediate help to businesses.

“Even buying them another 60 days of not having to pay some of those taxes could be the difference of them making it or not making it,” he said.

Several Democrats criticized the bill.

Senate Minority Leader Susan Kent, DFL-Woodbury, said it was premature because Minnesota Management and Budget is expected to release some updated economic numbers next week.

“This is too soon to have this conversation,” Kent said.

DFL lawmakers also raised concerns about the bill’s potential financial impact with a deficit looming.

Sen. Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, described the bill as “piling on” a bad financial problem.

“My no vote on the bill isn’t because there aren’t some nice things in here,” Bakk said, “it’s just that we don’t have money to do nice things right now.”

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