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PILT debate - how much tax money is the public losing on public land?

More than 60% of land in Idaho is controlled by the federal government - meaning a loss of tax revenues for local government.


How much would it be worth to taxpayers if it were privately controlled? It has always been a question, and now we might have an answer.

Earlier this year, we detailed the process of PILT payments - one of the ways the federal government attempts to mitigate potential losses in revenues that states with large amounts of federal land such as Idaho may experience is by compensating them with Payments in Lieu of Taxes, or “PILT.” Since federal land is owned by the government and cannot be taxed, PILTs are a way that the federal government attempts to aid citizens living near federal land by giving each county a payment which is calculated based on the number of acres owned by the federal government and the county’s population.


"According to the report, the federal government is paying out about eight or nine times less than it should be.
The report calculates that for a 145-acre parcel of U.S. Forest Service land on the western city limit of Elk River, Clearwater County receives a $153.39 PILT payment but would receive $1,321 in property taxes from a private owner.
The report shows Canyon County received a current PILT payment of $350.71 for a 120-acre parcel south of Nampa, which AEON AI estimates would bear $10,158 in property taxes in its current state. If the parcel was fully “built out” for development, the company projects up to $256,519 in property taxes.
Boundary County gets a current PILT payment of $20.03 for the site of the Bonners Ferry Ranger District. A private owner would pay $365.10 in property taxes on the land, AEON AI projects, and redeveloping the property as low density residential would yield up to $30,963 in property taxes. That number does not account for the cost of the potential owner redeveloping the property."

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