Shocker: North Dakota Chamber Of Commerce Against Tax Relief


Yesterday Rep. Scott Louser’s (R-Minot) idea to suspend the state’s personal income tax for two years got a committee hearing at the legislature. And who was their to testify against it? Our friends from the North Dakota Chamber of Commerce who, despite being an allegedly business-friendly lobbying group, can’t ever seem to find any actual tax relief they like.

And, of course, they’re using a well-worn tactic to oppose Rep. Louser’s idea: Triangulation. You see, the Chamber likes to pretend their for tax relief, just never the tax relief that’s before them. If you propose property tax relief, they say it should be income tax relief. And if you propose income tax relief, they say it’s not property tax relief until you almost get the sense that they don’t really want any tax relief at all:

BISMARCK, N.D. (GPN) – North Dakota’s largest business group is opposing a bill that would suspend the state’s individual

income tax this year and next year.

Bill Shalhoob is a spokesman for the Greater North Dakota Chamber of Commerce. He spoke Monday at a North Dakota House Finance and Taxation Committee hearing on the tax bill.

Dropping the income tax for two years would mean $1 billion less for North Dakota’s treasury. Shalhoob says that’s not sustainable.

He says the tax elimination wouldn’t benefit property taxpayers, or businesses that pay corporate tax.

If adding a suspension of the corporate income tax into this bill is what the Chamber wants, I’m all for it. On property taxes, too, I suppose if the cost of real income tax relief is more meddling in property taxes by the state legislature then let’s do it (though I remain unconvinced the solution to property taxes must come locally). But you really have to admire the audacity of the Chamber of Commerce which seems to be on a mission to hamstring real tax relief measures to keep as much money tied up in state government as possible.

No doubt so that it can be doled out to their membership by way of special economic development favors.

There are a lot of members of the North Dakota Chamber of Commerce who are good conservatives who believe in limited government. These people ought to be re-thinking their membership in that group.

Rob Port is the editor of In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters.

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  • Clairvoyant

    While I appreciate Rep Louser’s intentions, I’m frustrated by the inability of this legislature to properly recognize property tax relief. Funny that the best property tax relief offered up so far is from the Democrats.

    • Rob

      What the Democrats are offering isn’t property tax relief.

      The legislature cannot address property taxes, because the legislature does not levy the tax. The best we can do is bail out the local governments, and we all see the good that has done.

      Which is to say, no good at all.

      • Clairvoyant

        That is why its called property tax RELIEF. No good at all? Maybe Democrats see it that way. I don’t

        • Rob

          I’m not even sure what point you’re trying to make, but i’ll say that shifting spending from the local to the state level is not any sort of tax relief.

          • Lianne

            He seems to be arguing both sides of the coin against himself.

          • yy4u2

            Because he sounds shockingly leftist. Guess he’s waiting for the wind to blow a certain way.

          • Clairvoyant

            I’m waiting for the wind to blow against the fans of the Democrats and Republicans that can’t seem to realize that those parties are against us due to their insistence on tugging at the special interest teats of terror. These are the types who get their “facts” from MSNBC or Fox

    • Kevin Flanagan

      Who was it that led a campaign against measure two?

      • Clairvoyant

        actually that was as fervently opposed by Reps as Dems

        • Rob

          The Measure 2 debate is over. We who wanted to eliminate property taxes lost, and that’s fine.

          It doesn’t change the fact that the “property tax relief” coming out of the legislature isn’t relief at all.

          • Clairvoyant

            It is in Cass County. My taxes went down

          • Kevin Flanagan

            Mine went down a whopping $52.

          • Clairvoyant


          • Rob

            If they did, it was a marginal decrease.

            Mine went up 18%.

    • SusanBeehler

      Actually there is a bill that was just heard on giving everyone a “homestead credit” essentially not having to pay tax on the first $75,000 in value on their home. It is worded as taxable value which is confusing, it also has additional credit for those over 65. Contact your legislator if you like it. Here it is:

  • DelawareBeachHouse

    Temporary tax breaks are bad public policy. They fail to provide the certainty that businesses and taxpayers need to plan. One of the reasons the U.S. economy is so weak is that Congress and the administration are always sticking political morsels in the tax code, but don’t want to look like they’re spending too much. Who wants to invest in a capricious environment?
    Suppose you could say the same thing about eco-devo incentives, too.

    • Rob

      Hey, i’d love to make it permanent, but if a permanent abolishment of the income tax had been proposed we’d be hearing about how “extreme” it is, etc.

      Politics is the art of the possible.

      And yeah, I don’t want to hear a word about the uncertainty of temporary policy from the economic development crowd.

    • Andrea Toman

      The temporary part is to sweeten the deal. It allows us to prove that the state can survive without those funds, and we can revisit it during the next legislative session.

  • WOOF

    Tax relief for “businesses that pay corporate tax”,
    the rest of you tell your story walking.

    • Kevin Flanagan

      Businesses don’t pay taxes; their customers do.

      • WOOF

        The invisible hand of consumer choice decides participation in the tax. There flourishes freedom.

        • Rob

          When everything is taxed, there’s not a lot of “consumer choice” available. All taxes raise the cost of goods and services.

          • WOOF

            Everything is not taxed and everything is not taxed equally. You can walk or you can drive, you can use your cell plan or your wifi. You can give up convenience and substitute thrift.

          • Rob

            Everything is taxed. Name something that isn’t.

  • camsaure

    crony capitalism anyone?

  • Lianne

    Rob, the Chamber isn’t against the bill, they just wanted businesses to be included in this bill. ;-)

    • Rob

      And I’m fine with that. But I suspect that if businesses were included, the Chamber would find another reason to oppose.

      • Lianne

        I was being a bit facetious with my statement, as you know.

  • Opinionated

    Scott Louser for governor, senator, anything… At least he gets it

    • Rob

      Scott’s a great guy, and a heck of a legislator.

      • opinion8ed

        yeah we need to clone this guy… Minot has some of the best guys… Dan Ruby does a tremendous job, also

        • Lianne

          He is a statesman.

        • Rob

          Roscoe Streyle is great (he introduced the firearms legislation).

          We do have a good group from Minot.