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Truth in Taxation

"Truth in taxation" (TnT) is a process first enacted by the legislature in 1988 to enhance public participation in Minnesota’s property tax system.

The TnT process consists of these three components:

  • Each local government is required to formally adopt a “proposed levy” in September for the upcoming year; the final levy, when ultimately adopted, may not exceed the proposed levy.1
  • County auditors generate parcel-specific notices of proposed taxes for all parcels of property based on the proposed levies.
  • Each local government is required to hold a public meeting after the notices come out where budget and tax issues are discussed, and where public testimony must be allowed, prior to adopting its final levy.

1 Final levies may exceed proposed levies in the case of levies approved by voters in referendum elections.

Rationale for the Program

Prior to TnT, the only involvement most taxpayers had with the property tax system was on the valuation side of the equation. Taxpayers received a market value notice in the spring of the year prior to the tax year, but nothing about how that valuation would actually relate to property taxes. Taxpayers could choose to become involved in tax and budgeting decisions by attending meetings of county commissioners, city councils, and school boards, but few did.

TnT was enacted with a goal of improving accountability by focusing taxpayers on the relationship between budget decisions and property taxes, and providing taxpayers with a greater opportunity to become involved in the local government budgeting process.

Recent Changes

In 2009, the legislature made some significant changes to the TnT process, generally aimed at removing some of the requirements that local governments found most onerous. They repealed:

  • a requirement that each local government publish a newspaper ad showing proposed levy and spending amounts, and
  • a number of regulations related to scheduling of the public meetings, which had required an extensive administrative process that insured that no two hearings affecting the same taxpayer would ever be held simultaneously. The pre-2009 law also required that the final levy would be adopted at the TnT hearing.

October 2014