Ingebrigtsen: Conformity tax bill benefits Minnesotans
Editor's note: The following political column was written by Minnesota Senator Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria.
It has been a busy couple of weeks at the Capitol. Governor Dayton continues to talk about his budget and push for additional sales, income, and business to business taxes on Minnesotans as the path toward prosperity for our state. I fundamentally disagree with Governor Dayton's approach of adding to the already heavy tax burden for Minnesotans. We don't need Minnesota to become the land of 10,000 taxes. As your voice in St. Paul, I will be working on policies that help families and taxpayers thrive.
This week on Valentine's Day, the State Senate passed a federal conformity tax bill; a strangely named, but important bill benefitting Minnesota's taxpayers.
Updating the state's tax laws to the federal tax code is an important issue as Minnesota families across the state began filing their income tax returns February 1st. Timely resolution of tax conformity helps prevent the need for taxpayers to file amended returns. The tax conformity bill provided nearly $20 million in tax relief, and extended many provisions important to Minnesotans. Significant provisions included an extension of the educator classroom expense deduction of up to $250, and an extension of the higher education tuition expense deduction. This relief would cover tax year 2012, the year that Minnesotans are now reporting on their income tax returns.
While the Senate bill provides important tax relief, Senate Republicans offered ideas to deliver additional tax relief to Minnesota families. Notably, Minnesota does not currently conform to federal "marriage penalty" relief, and as a result, many married couples who use the standard deduction have higher taxes compared to their tax bill had they filed as two single individuals. An amendment to include marriage penalty relief was supported by Senate Republicans, but rejected by Senate Democrats. Had the proposal been included in the bill, an estimated 605,600 married filers would have seen average additional tax relief of $114 according to Department of Revenue estimates.
After passage by the Senate, the bill now awaits final action in the House to determine if the bill moves on to Governor Dayton, or whether additional work is needed in a conference committee.
The Judiciary Committee began hearing bills in earnest this week, including a bill that I presented which addresses issues surrounding when a person has been charged with murdering someone from whom the person may benefit. For example, if a man is charged with killing his wife and stands to inherit everything from her, SF 196 will allow an interested person to file an inventory of the murdered victim's personal property with the court so that the alleged killer (or even his family or other people) cannot sell off the victim's personal property before the trial and make off with or hide the potentially ill-gotten gains.
Health and Human Services
HF 9/SF 5 - Medical Existence Expansion - passed the Senate and House and will be sent to the Governor for his signature.
SF 1 - Health Insurance Exchange - passed out of the Environment Finance Committee on Monday and is currently being heard in the HHS Finance Committee. It will pass out of HHS Finance Thursday evening (February 14th) and be heard next Tuesday, (February 19th) in the Full Finance Committee. At this point, there are still serious concerns with the bill, both from GOP members and members of the healthcare and business communities.