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Taxpayer receipt touted as a tool of transparency

Would you like a receipt with that?

Whether you’re buying a bagel or a soda, you’ve probably been asked that question. But have you ever been offered a receipt that details where your tax dollars go?

HF231 is designed to do exactly that.

Sponsored by Rep. Greg Davids (R-Preston), it would create a “taxpayer receipt” system that would allow any Minnesota taxpayer to go online and engage with an interactive tool that’d tell them the eventual destination of all taxes they pay.

The House Taxes Committee laid the bill over Tuesday for possible inclusion in an omnibus tax bill.

“The goal is for taxpayer transparency,” Davids said.

The committee’s chair, Rep. Aisha Gomez (DFL-Mpls) concurred, saying that property tax statements break down where the money goes, and that taxpayers should have the same information available for other taxes.

“This would help taxpayers make connections,” she said. “What do your taxes get you?”

The bill would appropriate $100,000 to Minnesota Management and Budget to create the new tool in consultation with the Department of Revenue. The base for the appropriation would be $47,000 in future years.

The website would allocate the user’s estimated state tax liability to each major expenditure category based on the category’s percentage share of total state General Fund spending. Involved in the calculation would be income, sales, alcohol, tobacco and motor vehicle fuels taxes.

Using the income amount entered by the user, the website would estimate the amount of income and direct sales taxes paid based upon the taxpayer's income and their purchases of tobacco, alcohol or motor vehicle fuel.

That aspect of the bill made Rep. Kristin Robbins (R-Maple Grove) curious. “Is that data protected, and how long is the department going to store all that?”

Davids said he was assured by the Department of Revenue that such information would not be stored.

The website would be updated annually, based upon tax policy changes made at the state and federal levels.

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