It is ironic that Betsy Russell trots out her “Idaho is a low tax state” data in the face of surging tax revenues. Well, let us set the record straight. The ranking that Ms. Russell provides is based on the tax dollars collected per capita, compiled by the Idaho Tax Commission.
It does not take into account the total impact on Idahoans. How is this possible? Think about our neighbor, Wyoming. Wyoming has no income tax and lower sales taxes than Idaho — yet it has a much higher tax take per capita. It is generally in the top 10. The reason is simple; Wyoming generates much of its revenue from severance taxes on coal and other fossil fuels. Effectively, the taxes are paid by out-of-state consumers of coal. Nevada is another example where out-of-state gamblers pick up a lot of the tax tab.
According to the Tax Foundation, when you review the actual tax burden paid by Idahoans, and exclude taxes paid by visitors or from exported goods, Idaho ranks 26th. The Tax Foundation also publishes a business tax climate comparison and Idaho ranks 20th, the worst in our region.
Fred Birnbaum, vice president, Idaho Freedom Foundation