Politics & Government

ND income tax forms available on-line

Dec 28, 2017
ND Tax Dept.

North Dakota’s income tax forms and booklets are now available on-line.

But when you will be able to file your tax return is still up in the air.

State tax commissioner Ryan Rauschenberger said that’s due to the passage of the federal tax cut bill.

"The IRS would normally start allowing filing by mid-January," Rauschenberger said. "But with all the changes brought on by the tax reform bill, that's been delayed a bit."

And Rauschenberger said because North Dakota is federalized -- meaning it follows the IRS filing guidelines -- filing may be delayed.

Prairie Public file

Gov. Doug Burgum has made 14 appointments to the Higher Education Governance Task Force.

Among the 14 are four state Legislators.

Sen. Brad Bekkedahl (R-Williston) said he applied to be on the task force because higher education is important to the northwestern part of North Dakota.  Bekkedahl said he has no preconceived notions about governance.

"The model last changed about 80 years ago," Bekkedahl said. "It's probably not a bad thing to look at it."

Bekkedahl said it doesn't mean there will be changes. But he said there could be down the road.

Dept of Human Services

During the 2017 Legislative session, it was touted as permanent property tax relief.

And the state takeover of payments for county social service programs is coming to fruition.

That is happening as the state is ending its 12-percent property tax buy-down program.

"The counties will receive their first payment on Jan. 10th," said North Dakota Human Services Director Chris Jones.

Counties could levy up to 20 mills to pay for those programs. But because of the takeover, those 20 mills have gone away.

ND Tax Dept.

North Dakota’s Tax Commissioner has been analyzing the new federal tax cut bill – and what kind of effect it might have on the state’s income taxes.

Ryan Rauschenberger said he’s been focusing his analysis on the changes to the federal individual income tax. He said he’s especially been looking at the doubling of the standard deduction and the removal of dependent exemptions.

"We expect the individual income tax revenue effects to be fairly minimal," Rauschenberger said. "It almost comes out as a wash."

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

The Chancellor of the North Dakota University System floated an idea to get state Board of Higher Education members more involved in the evaluation of the college presidents.

That’s normally been the Chancellor’s job.

Chancellor Mark Hagerott told the Board’s Governance Committee – the evaluations are now going to be done in tiers, starting with the two year schools. Hagerott suggested Board members be assigned to one of the tiers – two year schools, four-year schools and the research universities. He said getting more Board involvement is not a new idea.

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

The state Health Department has been holding a series of public hearings around North Dakota on the new rules for medical marijuana.

Voters in 2016 approved the use of medical marijuana. But the 2017 Legislature rewrote the measure to bring it into compliance with other state laws. Now, a package of administrative rules has been written to cover it.

A total of six public hearings are being held around the state. Written comments on the new rules must be received by December 26th.

Prairie Public file

In North Dakota, we’re seeing a trend toward fewer polling places.

"That's been a trend since the 1950s," said Deputy Secretary of State Jim Silrum. "Even in 1980, we had over 1200 polling places. In 2016, we had just over 400."

Silrum said a big reason for that has been the rising costs of elections.

"Not only do you have poll workers that must be in every polling location,  you also have voting machines," Silrum said. "You also have assistive voting technology for people with disabilities to vote privately and independently."

Prairie Public file

A representative of the budget consulting firm the North Dakota Legislature’s Revenue Advisory Committee hired said his firm is ready to advise Legislative leaders on  how global economic trends could impact state revenues.

The Committee hired IHS Markit to help the Legislature have its own set of budget numbers.

The state Office of Management and Budget is continuing to use Moody’s Analytics for the executive budget forecast. Some Legislators have been critical of Moody’s for missing the mark in its forecasts.

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

Later this week, an interim Legislative committee will be looking at a new bill draft concerning how the state responds when the Department of Energy nominates a site in North Dakota for a potential nuclear waste disposal site.

This is in reaction to DOE’s partnering with the Energy and Environmental Research Center to drill “test holes” in Pierce County for a potential disposal site. But DOE didn’t tell local authorities about it.

The Legislature currently has the power to reject the site. But the law doesn’t address what happens when the Legislature is not in session.

Prairie Public file

The North Dakota Legislature has now filed suit against Governor Doug Burgum over some of his line-item vetoes.

Burgum used that line-item power to change parts of various spending bills. Lawmakers argue Burgum deleted words or phrases in budget bills that change their intent – and they say by doing that, Burgum went beyond his powers.

"This has always been about making sure the integrity of the various branches of government is upheld," sais House Majority Leader Al Carlson (R-Fargo). "We felt the line had been crossed, and the Governor was legislating with a veto pen."