Rep. Boebert Introduces the MORE PILT Act to Support Rural Colorado
Today, Representative Lauren Boebert (CO-03) stood up for local communities near federal land by introducing the MORE PILT Act (or the Making Obligations Right by Enlarging Payments in Lieu of Taxes Act), which would require the federal government to study ways to make PILT payments more in line with market value taxes that would otherwise be received from the land.
Representative Lauren Boebert stated: “While Washington sleeps, I’m coming up with real solutions. This Act will help counties with significant amounts of non-taxable federal lands. While important to rural communities in Colorado’s Third District, PILT payments are a fraction of the dollars counties would receive if they were able to put these lands to productive private use. The federal government either needs to give the people back our land or compensate us appropriately for the tax base lost to federal lands.”
The federal government owns 28 percent of all land in the United States comprising some 640 million acres, and 62 percent of all counties have non-taxable federal land within their boundaries. Numerous counties with high percentages of public lands within their jurisdiction struggle to fund essential services due to the tax revenue lost by tax-exempt federal lands.
The Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program provides payments to counties and other local governments to offset losses in tax revenues due to the significant presence of federal land within their jurisdictions. Currently, the Department of the Interior makes PILT payments to more than 1,850 counties in 49 states. These payments provide critical revenue for local governments to carry out vital services including firefighting, road and bridge maintenance, education, school construction, law enforcement, search and-rescue operation, emergency medical care, and solid waste disposal.
While the PILT program is a good start, the average per-acre value from the payments is only a fraction of the amount of revenues that would be generated for states and counties if value-based taxation or economic development occurred on these federal lands. According to the National Association of Counties, the average PILT payment per acre of federal land was $2.71 in FY 2020.
Congresswoman Boebert introduced the MORE PILT Act to create a fully paid for solution to establishing a study to come up with a more effective formula to give counties additional PILT payments. The bill includes an offset to ensure the modeling tool, study, and report authorized by this Act do not increase federal spending. This new modeling is a long-term solution to the issues facing rural counties, since it allows for automatic adjustments to reflect current market conditions and will calculate future changes to land values expeditiously.
Senators Mike Lee (R-Utah), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and Jim Risch (R-Idaho) have introduced a Senate companion of the bill, S.1008.
Supporters of Rep. Boebert’s bill include:
The National Association of Counties (NACo), Archuleta County, Dolores County, Garfield County, Hinsdale County, Mesa County and Rio Grande County.
Read the full text of the bill HERE.