Property taxes may become a thing of the past in at least one state. North Dakota voters have the chance of a lifetime today when casting a ballot on Measure 2, an issue which would eliminate property taxes. If voters repeal the property tax law and utilize the state’s growing oil revenue to help fund public entities, it will be the only state to not levy property taxes on citizens, according to Vision to America. Also bolstered economically by oil revenue, Alaska voted to eliminate state income taxes in 1980, USA Today reports. The repeal of the state income tax in Alaska was the last successful attempt at major state tax reform.
The North Dakota property tax elimination amendment is a non-partisan issue driven by a citizen-led petition drive. Unlike many states experiencing high unemployment and a decrease in tax revenue, North Dakota has a surplus of funds created by both the oil industry and through property tax collections. Opponents of the North Dakota ballot amendment include both traditionally conservative and liberals groups. Although politicians from both sides of the aisle, public employee unions and the business establishment are working to defeat the measure, the Empower the Taxpayer group is gaining support and leading the charge to repeal the 1889 property tax mandate.
North Dakota League of Cities Executive Director Connie Sprynczynatyk told USA Today that property taxes are a predictable source of revenue which provide funds for fire, police and other local services in opposition of Measure 2. If approved at the ballot box today, the North Dakota property tax amendment would force state governmental officials to provide tax revenue to local governments through other means, according to the New York Times. Measure 2 ballot language does not dictate how the state would implement new funding mechanisms.