Our Work


  • May 24, 2017

Federal Estate Tax Conformity: A Big Win for Über-Rich

By ensuring that extremely high-income households pay state and local taxes at a rate approaching that of other Minnesota households, the estate tax does more, dollar for dollar, than any other tax to reduce tax regressivity in Minnesota. Conservatives want to dramatically reduce Minnesota’s estate tax by conforming to federal law, which would have the […]

  • May 23, 2017

Estate Tax Break Increases Regressivity

Conservatives in Minnesota continue to push for a dramatic reduction in Minnesota’s estate tax, which would almost exclusively benefit the state’s wealthiest residents (who already enjoy below average effective tax rates). Implementing the estate tax reductions proposed by conservatives would further increase the regressivity of Minnesota’s state and local tax system. The estate tax is […]

  • May 18, 2017

Property Tax Break Favors Large, Metro Businesses

The state revenue loss resulting from changes to the state business property tax in the tax conference committee report are likely to increase rapidly over time—for reasons described in a recent North Star article—and ultimately surpass the revenue loss associated with other tax cuts in the report. As the magnitude of that tax break swells […]

  • May 15, 2017

Beware the Trojan Tax Cut

As Homer tells it, a besieged Troy eagerly welcomed the present of a large wooden horse as a herald of good times to come. This “gift,” however, actually led to the ruin of the proud city. Minnesotans should take this cautionary tale to heart before they embrace the large tax cut schemes being promoted by […]

  • May 10, 2017

Conservative Spending Claims Don’t Add Up

A recent chart from the Republican Party of Minnesota, reproduced below, purports to show that Minnesota’s general fund budget is growing about 12 percent faster than the state’s economy and about 25 percent faster than the rate of inflation from 2012 to 2017. The information in that graph is, however, generally inaccurate. The Republican Party […]

  • May 8, 2017

Minnesota’s Falling Price of Government

Dubbed as “an index of what taxpayers can afford” by the business community, Minnesota’s “price of government” is projected to reach an all-time low before the end of the state’s current budget planning horizon, according to non-partisan staff at Minnesota Management & Budget (MMB). This projection is based on current law; if some of the […]

  • May 4, 2017

Minnesota Taxes Much Less Regressive

Minnesota’s state and local tax system remains regressive, with lower- and middle-income households generally paying a larger percentage of their income in state and local taxes than higher-income households, although the degree of tax regressivity is modest and significantly reduced relative to what is was two years earlier. The decline in tax regressivity is primarily […]

  • May 1, 2017

City LGA Differences Among Various Plans

Governor Dayton’s city Local Government Aid (LGA) proposal increases the LGA appropriation in the upcoming two year budget, while the House freezes the appropriation and the Senate cuts it, as noted in the preceding North Star article. Knowledge of the appropriation alone, however, does not tell us how much aid individual cities will receive. In […]

  • April 24, 2017

City Aid Declines Under Most LGA Proposals

For the last four and a half decades, the city Local Government Aid (LGA) program has helped cities fund essential services and control property tax levels, but in real (i.e., inflation-adjusted) dollars per capita, city LGA is currently less than half of what it was in its peak year of 1990 and about 20 percent […]

  • April 20, 2017

One-Sided Reverse Referendum Undermines Local Governance

A movement is again afoot in Minnesota to allow anti-tax voters to create new hurdles to local levy increases. Under the moniker of “taxpayer empowerment,” this initiative would allow voters as few as ten percent of the number voting in the last general election to trigger a referendum to reverse any levy increase in a […]