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Property taxes cuts miss prediction

ST. PAUL — Minnesota property taxes did not fall as much as the Dayton administration said they would.

A one-page report appeared without notice on the state Revenue Department website late Friday afternoon indicated property taxes fell $8 million in 2014, far short of the $121 million the governor and his revenue commission predicted at the end of July.

Republicans, on the other hand, call it a tax increase.

The Revenue Department reports city, county and township property taxes rose $65 million in 2014. School property taxes, including voter-approved levies, went up $41 million and other governments’ taxes went up $19 million, the department reported.

In all, taxes rose $125 million.

However, the department also reports property tax refunds and credits send $133 million back to taxpayers, which it says means property taxes actually fell $8 million.

Minnesota Public Radio, which first reported the story, quoted Revenue Commissioner Myron Frans as saying: “The net number is an overall reduction in property taxes statewide for the first time since 2002. Those are great facts and you can make whatever you want of them, but the fact of the matter is this is the first decrease in over a decade in property taxes after refunds.”

Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton called it a tax cut.

“This drop in property taxes is good news for Minnesotans, who for years have been hammered by double-digit property tax increases,” he said.

Republicans, however, called it a $125 million tax increase and blamed it on Democrats.

“In 2013, Democrats sent local governments $292 million in new money claiming it would lower property taxes,” Rep. Paul Torkelson, R-Hanska, said Friday. “Despite Democrats’ repeated promises to reduce property taxes, Minnesotans learned today they are facing the highest property tax levy in state history.”

Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.