Senate committee looks at removing the last oil tax 'trigger'

Mar 14, 2017

House Majority Leader Al Carlson (R-Fargo) testifies on the oil tax trigger removal bill in Senate Finance and Taxation (3-14-17)
Credit Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

A bill to remove the remaining “trigger” in North Dakota’s oil taxes is now before a senate committee.

The bill – authored by House Majority Leader Al Carlson (R-Fargo) – would remove language adopted two years ago, when most of the tax triggers were removed. That bill lowered the oil tax from 11 ½ percent to 10 percent – and got rid of tax reductions tied to lower prices. It did have a provision that if oil went back up to $90 a barrel, the tax would go to 11 percent.

Carlson told the Senate Finance and Taxation Committee – he thinks having that top trigger is bad tax policy.

"The amendment on the bill that I'm removing to get rid of that high-end tax increase will probably never happen," Carlson said. "Is this earth shattering? Does this change our tax or revenue numbers? No. I believe this is not good tax policy."

Former Sen. Connie Triplett (D-Grand Forks) was one of the lawmakers who came up with the compromise to add the higher-price trigger. She said the compromise was forged after the Three Affiliated Tribes objected to the tax reduction.

"It was done specifically as a sign of respect for the MHA (Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara) nation," Triplett said. "they wanted us to put it in at $80. The Petroleum Council wanted it at $100. We compromised at $90."

The committee didn’t take immediate action. The bill has already passed the House.