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Sen. Torrey Westrom Tax conformity needed soon

Taxpayers are one step closer to getting clarity on Minnesota's tax laws as the Senate Tax Committee finally sent a bill (HF 1777 - Senate language) to the floor addressing federal tax conformity. A fix for the “marriage penalty” and relief for taxpayers that had a short-sale of their home in 2013 were among the tax issues included in the bill. In spite of the helpful relief, neither the Governor, nor Senate and House majorities were proposing marriage penalty relief for tax year 2013 leaving many taxpayers disappointed as they complete their current Minnesota tax returns.

Also included in the Senate tax bill is a call for retroactive repeal of a new gift tax, and repeal of three business related sales taxes imposed by Governor Dayton and DFL majorities in 2013. So called “B2B” sales taxes were imposed on equipment repair, including farm equipment, warehouse and storage services, and telecommunications equipment. Opponents of these taxes have long argued the taxes were unnecessarily, placed more burdens on job creators and made Minnesota a high tax out-lier compared to neighboring states. The repeal of the sales taxes under the Senate plan would take effect on April 1.

In the first four weeks of session the Senate Tax Committee has not made this bill a priority. In fact, on Wednesday the Tax Committee spent their time hearing a bill dealing with dairy storage structures. Clearly Republicans were not the reason the tax bill was not moving forward.

On Thursday, Democrats called an emergency vote to suspend the rules to take up the tax bill while it was still hot off the press.  Most of the caucus time was spent discussing the strategy behind this move. In the end, members sincerely wanted more time to read the bill and prepare a more robust floor debate on Friday.

On Thursday, March 20 at the Minnesota State Capitol, I spoke up regarding the tax conformity and tax repeal bill the Democrats brought to the Senate Floor for a vote.

Here is the text of my statement: “The Senate is finally moving on some tax repeals and tax conformity with the federal government for families, business owners and farmers in our state and in my senate district in western Minnesota. It’s good to see movement on it. I’m hopeful we can eventually get this passed in the near future which repeals the new sales tax – the onerous sales tax – on farmers and those doing equipment repair.

“The new taxes that the Democrats pushed through last year on warehousing, on propane and groceries, and commodities like that that would be going into effect April 1. They’ve now seen the light and are joining Republicans to repeal these onerous new taxes that they pushed through last year. I’m glad to see the movement.

“Hopefully by next week we will have it to the governor’s desk and the governor can sign these onerous taxes and get them off the books before April 1 hit, before the new warehouse tax and all the other taxes that are affecting consumers and families and farmers across western Minnesota.”