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Friday, March 31, 2023

New Lawmaker Deal Eliminates Social Security Tax in Minnesota

In an end-of-session agreement, Minnesota lawmakers decided to abolish the state’s tax on Social Security income, reduce individual income taxes, and enlarge the renter’s credit.

Over the course of three years, the tax benefits will total $4 billion. Direct refunds, dubbed “Walz checks” because of Gov. Tim Walz’s support for them, are not included.

The heads of the House and Senate tax committees signed the agreement in front of reporters on Saturday afternoon, but they didn’t mention the elephant in the room: it won’t pass unless legislators agree on multiple budget bills by the deadline on Sunday night.

“We completed our task. We were in charge of the $4 billion tax relief. We accomplished it in a way that affects everyone in Minnesota “Carla Nelson, R-Rochester, chairwoman of the Senate Tax Committee, told reporters. “It would be a tragedy if this got lost in the shuffle.”

The largest portion of the tax bill, more than $500 million each year, is the Social Security exemption. It will help retirees who have a large amount of investment or pension income. Lower-income pensioners are already free from state taxes on Social Security.

According to a February estimate from the state Revenue Department, more than 410,000 tax payers will save an average of $1,253 each year.

“For the first time in over 40 years, elderly folks will pay no tax on their Social Security income,” stated Paul Marquart, DFL-Dilworth, chairman of the House Taxes Committee.

The bottom income tax level in the state will be reduced from 5.35 percent to 5.10 percent. In tax year 2022, everyone pays the lowest rate on the percentage of their income up to $41,050 for married couples and $28,080 for individuals.

It will save the average household around $100 per year, or $4 each biweekly paycheck, and is one-tenth the size of Senate Republicans’ initial proposal. If the measure passes, employers might modify tax withholding this summer, legislators said.

The renter’s credit will become refundable, making it available to Minnesota renters who do not owe any income taxes. Because some kinds of income, such as Social Security, are no longer included against the $64,920 yearly income threshold, more people will qualify.

According to lawmakers, the modifications might allow up to 120,000 more people to qualify for the renter’s credit.

Walz has advocated for $500 per adult refund cheques to be included throughout the session. Throughout the discussion, however, neither side exhibited much interest in the proposition.

“I’m not sure why the governor recommended a one-time check for everyone,” said state Sen. Tom Bakk, I-Cook, a member of the tax conference committee. The payouts would have been subject to federal taxes, making individuals “pretty damned furious,” according to Bakk.

Making the tax bill’s specifics public might put further pressure on legislators who are trying to secure other end-of-session agreements. House leaders have stated that they would not vote on tax cuts until K-12, public safety, and other issues have been resolved.

Disagreements over $1 billion in new public school financing have been particularly heated. While his House colleague, state Rep. Jim Davnie, was asking questions, Senate Education Chairman Roger Chamberlain wrapped up a Saturday morning conference committee meeting.

“I’m at a loss for what to do. There are no days and nights for us. We don’t have many hours, “R-Lino Lakes, Chamberlain remarked.

The Senate proposes spending $59 million on reading initiatives and $941 million on required special education services to close a funding deficit. The House also wants to include mental health services and a clause that allows hourly school employees to get unemployment benefits.

Walz has stated that he would not call a special session, but it is becoming increasingly improbable that lawmakers will be able to handle the several pressing concerns in a timely manner. The split Legislature has until 11:59 p.m. Sunday to pass legislation.

The minority in the House GOP and Senate DFL have been mostly excluded from the talks.

Senate DFL Leader Melisa Lopez Franzen said it was “premature” to speculate on whether Walz should convene a special session to allow senators to examine the legislation before voting.

Lopez Franzen, DFL-Edina, remarked, “I actually brought my bag and am ready to remain here till tomorrow to get it done.”

Cedric Blackwater
Cedric Blackwater
Cedric is a journalist with over a decade of experience reporting on local US news, and touching on many global topics. He is currently the lead writer for Bulletin News.

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