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Andy Peterson, Published May 23 2013

Letter: Criticism of business tax cuts misses obvious benefits for ND

In his column dated May 19, Lloyd Omdahl tried to make the case that tax cuts to businesses and property owners who live out of state are a bad thing. It appears, then, that Omdahl would prefer to discriminate against the businesses that employ thousands of North Dakotans with meaningful work, businesses that provide services we use and enjoy, and businesses that help make our communities great places to call home. He also does not think that people responsibly paying taxes should receive the same reductions as their neighbors because of where they receive their mail.

We, on the other hand, are proud of the work the Legislature accomplished to equitably lower tax rates for ALL individuals and businesses of our great state. We created the economic success together and we share it together. These companies and individuals should not be sent to the back of the line.

Omdahl then discussed his preference for the homestead tax credit approach. That was, in fact, debated at length during the legislative session. In light of the long-range planning Omdahl was calling for, the homestead credit option was rejected on the grounds that it would lead to an uneven tax base shifted unfairly to agriculture and commercial property. The legislature more wisely applied the reductions equally to all property owners. This is the best way to approach property tax relief.

Finally, Omdahl writes that much of our success is simply due to oil tax revenue.

While he certainly isn’t wrong, he fails to address the other sectors of our economy that are also booming – agriculture (still the No. 1 industry in our state), manufacturing, technology and many other secondary businesses that support our oil and gas development. They, too, are playing a large role in our budget surpluses. These sectors also deserve to share in our state’s prosperity.

A responsible government is one that, in times of excess, returns its surplus to those taxpayers who have paid it. Under Omdahl’s plan, only some of those taxpayers would get to benefit. That is a clear example of government picking winners and losers, something we cannot support.

We believe the Legislature upheld that in North Dakota, all citizens and businesses are entitled to share in its prosperity equitably. If you pay taxes in North Dakota, your taxes will be lower. Period. That’s the kind of North Dakota I am proud to live in.

Peterson is president/CEO, Greater North Dakota Chamber.