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Gov. Little says most Idahoans should receive special session rebate checks by Thanksgiving

The Idaho Senate debates the tax cut and education funding bill during the 2022 special session on Sept. 1 2022. (Clark Corbin/Idaho Capital Sun)

Idaho State Tax Commission issued first rebates on Sept. 26, with 192,000 checks totaling $133M issued statewide so far

Idaho Gov. Brad Little says Idahoans who filed their taxes on time should expect to see special session tax rebate checks by Thanksgiving.

On Friday, Little told the Sun the state has issued 192,000 rebate checks totaling $133 million so far.

The rebate checks were approved during the Sept. 1 special session of the Idaho Legislature as part of an approximately $1 billion package to reduce the state’s record budget surplus, cut taxes and increase education funding.

“By Thanksgiving, almost everybody that didn’t file late or have a complication or get flagged should be done,” Little said in a telephone interview.

Little said by the end of next week he hopes Idaho State Tax Commission can finish sending out all rebates for everyone who filed tax returns on time and has direct deposit set up for refunds.

“All the direct deposits that don’t have any kind of flag on them should be done next week is my understating,” Little said.

In the days leading up to the Sept. 1 special session, Little and Republican legislative leaders touted how quickly they would be able to send $500 million in tax rebate checks to Idahoans.

Officials with the tax commission have begun processing the rebates and issued the first rebates Sept. 26, Idaho State Tax Commission public information officer Renee Eymann said Thursday.

“Because of system limitations, we’re not able to issue the tax rebates all at once,” Eymann said. “Rebates issued via direct deposit go out first as we can issue about 60,000 of them each day. The rebates we send by paper check are limited to 75,000 per week.”

Although Little hopes most Idahoans without a tax complication will get rebates by Nov. 24, some Idahoans may have to wait several more months. In addition, some Idahoans are also still waiting on a rebate check from an earlier round of tax rebates Little signed off on in February.

“The Tax Commission expects to send about 800,000 rebates totaling up to $500 million by the end of March 2023,” Idaho State Tax Commission officials said in a press release issued Tuesday.

On Friday, Little said the March timeline reflects how long it could take to provide rebate checks to people who filed their taxes late or who have an issue with their taxes.

“Some people that have very complicated tax returns always file late. It’s a way of life for them to pay a penalty,” Little said.

State officials also want to take the time to make sure they aren’t sending out rebates to people who don’t qualify for them, Little added.

The rebates are for a minimum of $300 for individuals and $600 for joint filers.

Gov. Brad Little emphasized speed of tax rebates at August press conference

In an Aug. 23 press conference where he announced he was calling a special session, Little emphasized how quickly the state would be able to get the rebates to Idahoans.

“We’ve done two test runs on (the tax rebate system),” Little said when the Sun asked him for the timeline of issuing rebate checks. “We did 10% (rebates) two years ago, 12% (rebates) this year. It’s based on the 2020 taxes, so we know the number. It’s almost a just push print action compared to anything else that would be more complicated. That’s the beauty, in my mind, of this proposal is how fast we can get it implemented and get that money out.”

At the time, the Sun then asked Little whether Idahoans would have that money in their pockets heading into the holiday season.

“No, no, no,” Little said. “It will be before that.”

KTVB has posted a video of Little’s press conferenceon YouTube.

Meanwhile, state officials have set up an online tool where Idahoans can track the status of their tax rebates if they enter their Social Security number and driver’s license information.

“All of the governor’s communication on this topic mentioned the rebates would start rolling out as soon as September, which helps Idahoans struggling with inflation now and is well ahead of the timeline that could be achieved if this tax relief passed during the regular session starting next year,” Little’s press secretary Madison Hardy said in a written statement on Thursday.

Legislator says constituents have asked about Idaho’s tax rebate timeline

House Majority Leader Mike Moyle, R-Star, said constituents have asked him why they haven’t received their special session rebate check yet, and he’s asked the tax commission’s staff about it. Moyle said he has also met with constituents who were concerned they haven’t received a rebate check from the first batch of 2022 rebates that Little signed into law in February.

“We were told they could get it done fast,” Moyle told the Sun on Thursday.

“See they have got a problem anyway because they haven’t finished the first round,” Moyle said. “Remember this is the second round of checks (this year), and there’s a lot of people calling (saying), ‘I didn’t get my first one.’”

Eymann said the tax commission has issued more than 677,000 rebates for the original 2022 rebate package Little signed in February, but the commission doesn’t know how many people are waiting on a refund.

“We don’t know how many rebates are left to send because we don’t know who is going to file their returns to get the rebate,” Eymann said.

Eymann said the reason people haven’t received their February 2022 rebate yet is because the state is still processing their 2021 tax returns. The list includes people who filed by the April deadline and who filed afterward.

“Once we finish processing their 2021 tax returns, the taxpayers will receive their February 2022 rebate first, and then they will receive their Special Session rebate next,” Eymann said.

Eymann also said the tax commission is meeting its timeline.

“The governor stated that the rebates would be deployed as soon as the end of September, and we met that timeframe by issuing them starting on Sept. 26,” Eymann said.

Where is the Idaho tax rebate coming from?

The law legislators passed during the Sept. 1 special session was an approximately $1 billion package that reduced taxes, created tax rebates and increased funding for public education.

House Bill 1 did several things:

  • The bill spent $500 million from the state’s record budget surplus to provide tax rebates to all Idahoans who were full-year residents in 2020 and 2021 and filed income tax returns for those years. Idahoans who don’t claim any income, including retirees, were also eligible for the rebates as long as they filed to get the grocery tax rebate in those years. The rebates are $300 for individuals, $600 for joint filers, or for 10% of the taxpayer’s 2020 income taxes, whichever amount is greater.
  • The bill decreased the income tax rate from 6% to 5.8% and created a flat tax rate.
  • The bill transfers $330 million a year from sales tax revenue to a K-12 public school fund.
  • The bill also sends $80 million a year to in-demand career programs, which could include career-technical education courses, community colleges or colleges and universities. 

The Idaho Capital Sun is a nonprofit news organization delivering accountability reporting on state government, politics and policy in the Gem state. As longtime Idahoans ourselves, we understand the challenges and opportunities facing Idaho. We provide in-depth reporting on legislative and state policy, health care, tax policy, the environment, Idaho’s explosive population growth and more. Our mission is relentless investigative journalism that sheds light on how decisions in Boise and beyond are made and how they affect everyday Idahoans. We aim to tell untold stories and provide data, context and analysis on the issues that matter most throughout the state. The Capital Sun is part of States Newsroom, a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit supported by grants and a coalition of donors and readers. We retain full editorial independence.