by Art Macomber

COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho — Oct. 8, 2014. The Idaho Forest Products Commission is looking for more revenue, and Idaho landowners are the target. Proposed administrative rules will lower the number of acres subject to assessments by that Commission, and remove the requirement that the landowner subject to assessments NOT own Idaho manufacturing facilities. Pursuant to the existing rule found at Idaho Administrative Procedure Act (IDAPA) Rule, only landowners having NO manufacturing facilities in Idaho and owning more than 50,000 acres were subject to this assessment. If the proposed rule moves forward, property owners owning more than 10,000 acres will be subject to the assessment regardless of whether they own Idaho manufacturing facilities. Our notice here gives more details. To comment on this proposed rule, an interested party must send their comments so they are received by the Commission on or before October 22, 2014.

As the government becomes more starved for funds, property owners need to watch out for these new methods of revenue collection. The Idaho Administrative Bulletin cleverly states in a “FEE SUMMARY” that “a specific description of the fee or charge imposed or increased [is] none.” This is true, but clever, because while the fee rate of assessment does not change, the number of acres subject to the assessment does change, and therein lies the fee increase, because it applies to a broader range of property owners. Also, the assessment currently applies to out-of-state landowners owning more than 50,000 acres with no manufacturing facilities in Idaho. It appears the Idaho legislature found owners of manufacturing facilities in Idaho were not paying enough taxes through other means. If approved, the assessment will apply even if a manufacturing facilities owner is suffering under other taxation methods. This does not enhance the business operating environment in Idaho.

Additionally, it is too bad that the Idaho Administrative Bulletin only requires the following: “FISCAL IMPACT: The following is a specific description, if applicable, of any negative fiscal impact on the state general fund greater than ten thousand dollars ($10,000) during the fiscal year resulting from this rulemaking: NA.” When the executive branch tells the legislative branch it needs more money, the only meaningful fiscal impact deemed important enough to include in the hearing notice is that which may be negative to the State’s general fund, and not the negative fiscal impacts to property owners. Finally, and I don’t want to appear to be griping about too much at once, but since we are talking about a particular state of these United, here Idaho, can we please capitalize the word State? — ABM