Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) on Thursday introduced the Making Obligations Right by Enlarging Payments in Lieu of Taxes Act, or MORE PILT Act. Sens. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and Jim Risch (R-Idaho) joined as original cosponsors of the bill.
States, counties, and local governments are not able to collect property taxes on public lands in their jurisdictions. The Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program was established in 1977 to provide funding to offset the absence of property tax revenue. Unfortunately, PILT payments have historically been a small fraction of what local governments would otherwise generate through property taxes, leaving rural communities in Western states deprived of crucial funds.
“Without a property tax base, and with woefully inadequate PILT payments, Western states and communities struggle to fund their schools, infrastructure, and vital community services,” said Sen. Lee. “This bill will help ensure that PILT payments more accurately reflect the lands’ value, so that the citizens of our public lands states have the means they need to both survive and thrive.”
Specifically, the bill would direct the Secretary of Interior to build a model, conduct a study or economic analysis, and issue a report to determine the value of federal land eligible for payment under PILT, as well as the forgone property tax revenues that counties would have otherwise received.