The deadline on a political standoff between Minnesota’s Democratic Governor and its Republican-led Legislature means that state’s tax code has not been conformed to the Federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, and the chance for Minnesota taxpayers to see Conformity might not come again until January 2019.
The result: Minnesota taxpayers face many months of uncertainty about what ultimately will be their 2018 state tax obligations.
Gov. Mark Dayton on Wednesday vetoed the Tax Conformity and budget bills that state lawmakers passed as Minnesota’s legislative session ended Sunday. Dayton, who is finishing his second term and said he will not run for a third term this fall, vowed he would not call a special session to bridge any gaps. That means any new Conformity push would have to start when a new legislative session begins in January under whoever becomes the new governor.
Minnesota – like South Carolina – uses as the starting point for calculating state taxes a resident’s Federal Taxable Income. Without Conformity, Minnesota taxpayers in 2019 will not have updated tax forms. They will have to compute their Federal taxes and then figure out what their 2018 taxable income would have been under now-outdated 2017 Federal tax laws and file state taxes based on that number.
Earlier in the year as Conformity was being discussed, the Minnesota Society of Certified Professional Accountants warned political leaders that talking about Conformity but not enacting it would leave taxpayers in the lurch for their tax preparations:
“It would be like planning for a tropical vacation for months, only to be told shortly before departing that you’re going to the Arctic,” the group wrote.
The budget bill veto means Minnesota can’t access $6 million in Federal funds for election cybersecurity until after November’s elections.
Minn. Secretary of State Steve Simon said he urged lawmakers to make Tax Conformity a stand-alone bill Dayton could sign. But he said the “riskiest path” was taken when legislators inserted it in a bill Dayton repeatedly promised to veto because it did not provide $138 for school districts with budget shortfalls.
Minn. Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka told Minnesota NPR about the failure to pass Conformity: “Everywhere we turn, somebody is impacted, because in the end we are too stubborn to give in. … It feels impulsive, it feels vindictive and it didn’t help anybody in Minnesota. I don’t know where we go from here.”
Click here for a St. Paul Pioneer Press article that concludes with a chart that compares how the governor and the legislature agree and disagree across 13 categories of Tax Conformity goals. Dayton and the lawmakers did agree on switching the state’s income definition from Federal Taxable Income to Adjusted Gross Income.