WASHINGTON – March 26, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — Congressman Scott Tipton (R-CO) joined with a bipartisan group of his House colleagues to urge House leadership to prioritize funding for the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program for Fiscal Year (FY) 2016, and to work toward a long-term, sustainable solution for the vital program on which rural counties rely to provide essential services. Tipton also sent a letter to House appropriators this week requesting full funding for PILT in FY 2016 Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Appropriations.
PILT reimburses local governments for losses in tax revenues due to the presence of large expanses of un-taxable federal lands, ensuring vital funding for infrastructure, law enforcement, education and other essential operations. Colorado received nearly $34 million in PILT payments in 2014. See a county breakdown of PILT payments HERE.
The text of the letter from Tipton and his colleagues to Speaker of the House John Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi follows:
Dear Speaker Boehner and Minority Leader Pelosi:
As the 114th Congress begins its work to enact the fiscal priorities of the United States, we urge you to work in a bi-partisan, bi-cameral fashion to secure full funding for the Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program for fiscal year (FY) 2016 and beyond. Without the certainty of full funding for the PILT program, counties throughout our districts and across the nation will be unable to provide our constituents with essential services such as education, law enforcement, search and rescue, road maintenance and public health.
While it must be Congress’ ultimate goal to enact a long-term, sustainable solution to eliminate the ongoing uncertainty counties face, full-funding in FY16 for the PILT program is essential to provide our counties with the certainty they need to plan their own 2016 budgets.
PILT provides payments to local governments in 49 states and nearly 1,900 counties to offset foregone revenue due to tax-exempt federal lands within their jurisdictions. Current discretionary appropriations for PILT are set to expire on September 30, 2015. Without congressional action, we risk severely crippling counties’ ability to operate and provide essential services to our constituents.
Full funding of the PILT program will enable the federal government to meet its long-standing obligations to counties with federal land within their jurisdictions. It is imperative that we fulfill this obligation. We thank you for your consideration of this request and stand ready to work with you going forward.
See a pdf of the letter HERE.
In the letter to members of the House Committee on Appropriations, Tipton and Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) wrote:
As you know, sales taxes and local property taxes typically fund local governments and provide important revenues for essential services, including law enforcement, infrastructure and education. Counties are often required to provide these services on tax-exempt federal lands. The federal government owns significant portions of land in counties throughout the country. PILT funding helps offset the losses of these critical revenues and allows for the continuation of essential services.
In Fiscal Year 2014, the national average for PILT payments was 72 cents per acre. This figure pales in comparison to the amount of revenues that would be generated for states and local governments if economic development and value-based taxation were allowed to occur on these lands.
The federal government has an obligation to reimburse local governments for large quantities of federal lands found within their jurisdiction. Failure to provide PILT payments in FY2016 and beyond places an unsustainable burden on local taxpayers as well as local governments. We ask that you recognize the importance of the PILT program and include funding in the Fiscal Year 2016 Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Appropriations bill.
See a pdf of the full letter HERE
Since being elected to Congress, Tipton has fought to ensure programs vital for infrastructure, emergency services, law enforcement and education in rural counties with large expanses of un-taxable federal lands, remain intact. He has also worked to reduce the need for programs like PILT through legislation that would allow Western states to responsibly develop energy resources, manage their forests and create jobs.