MISSION AND VALUES
The mission of the Idaho Center for Fiscal Policy is to provide Idaho citizens and elected officials with fact-based information and analysis they can use to make informed public policy decisions that will shape Idaho’s future for generations to come.
The Idaho Center for Fiscal Policy will provide material that is pertinent to Idaho’s public finance issues and present that material in a clear, unbiased and understandable manner.
Analysis produced by the Idaho Center for Fiscal Policy will be based on the best available data and methodologies. When analyzing revenue-related issues, the Center will operate under a set of values derived from “Principles of a High-Quality State Revenue System” from the National Conference of State Legislatures. It is widely regarded as the definitive work on how to design and structure state and local government revenue systems. It also provides the underpinning for the four broad concepts that guide the Center’s revenue-related work.
The following are short descriptions of these values. Click on each for a more detailed explanation.
Idaho’s revenue structures should strive to be as fair as possible. Two broad ways of looking at fairness are horizontal equity and vertical equity. Horizontal equity means that taxpayers in similar economic circumstances should face similar tax burdens. Vertical equity refers to the idea that the relative tax burden across taxpayers of differing economic means (i.e., across income categories) should be related to their ability to pay.
Idaho’s revenue structures should minimize the costs associated with collecting those revenues, and should cause the least possible distortion in economic decision making. Costs should be examined from both the tax collector’s and the taxpayer’s perspectives.
Idaho’s revenue structures should be calibrated to provide sufficient revenue to meet the state’s spending needs, both current and over time. This applies not only to direct state spending, but also to spending requirements the state imposes on local governments.
Idaho’s revenue structures should be designed to minimize year-to-year volatility and, to the extent that revenue system instability is present, it should be quantified and steps taken to offset that instability (reserve funds, timing of capital projects, etc.).