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Bill banning additional transfer taxes on residential sales on Dunleavy’s desk

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(The Center Square) – A bill that bans Alaska and municipalities from adding transfer taxes on residential sales is awaiting Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s signature.

Senate Bill 179 is sponsored by Sen. Jesse Bjorkman, R-Nikiski.

“This is a step forward in making homeownership more attainable for all Alaskans,” Bjorkman said. “By prohibiting transfer taxes and fees on real estate transactions, we are ensuring that families, especially young and first-time homebuyers, are not burdened with additional costs. This legislation will help maintain the equity in seniors’ homes and make the dream of homeownership more realistic for everyone in our state.”

Bjorkman also championed a portion of the bill that expands tax breaks for farmers to include farm-related structures.

“Recognizing Alaska’s heavy reliance on imported food, amending Alaska’s farm tax will make the local food system more resilient,” said Sen. Bjorkman. “It also aims to lower entry barriers for new farmers, protect their privacy, and allow municipalities to extend property tax exemptions to non-food producing farms, promoting diverse agricultural opportunities.”

Sen. Jesse Kiehl, D-Juneau, added an amendment to the bill that would require governments to use qualified appraisers when making assessments and publishing standards regarding property values.

“Alaskans deserve a fair shake when they disagree with city hall,” said Sen. Kiehl. “When the rules are clear and transparent, the staff are qualified, and a taxpayer’s rights are protected, Alaskans can better trust that their taxes are fair.”

The bill includes a provision that allows a tax exemption for properties for economic development purposes.

“This provision empowers municipalities to completely exempt property taxes for economic development, extending beyond the current limitation, which only permits exemptions above the district’s required local contribution,” said Sen. Forrest Dunbar, D-Anchorage. “I am hopeful that this provision will help communities like Anchorage build more housing, as we know there is a housing supply crisis in the municipality today.”

Alaska’s housing inventory grew 0.1% from 2022 to 2023, according to a recent report from the U.S. Census Bureau. The state had 329,699 housing units as of 2023, the second lowest in the country, according to the report.

Home sales were down in April, with 468 fewer homes sold than the same month last year, according to a report from real estate company Redfin. However, home prices are up by 2.3% year over year and average $367,500, the report said.

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