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Giddings, Ada County poised to grapple over homeowners exemption

Idaho Capitol Building

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Idaho Capitol Building



A local elected official insists she has followed the law, but an April 20 report in the Lewiston Tribune exposed a dispute between Rep. Priscilla Giddings and the Ada County Assessor’s office, in which that county may yet seek tax payment related to Giddings’ move from Garden City to White Bird ahead of her run for the District 7 House seat she won in 2016.

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Priscilla Giddings

At issue is a property tax exemption Giddings had sought for her house in Ada County years earlier. A homeowners exemption was still on the books in Ada County even as Giddings won elections in District 7, which includes all of Idaho County as well as parts north. She defeated Shannon McMillan of Silverton by more than 1,000 votes in the Republican primary during the spring of 2016, and she defeated Democrat Jessica Chilcott of Sandpoint by more than 8,000 that fall.

It may be a matter of weeks before the Ada County Assessors’ Office lawyer weighs in, and assessor Robert McQuade told the Free Press Friday afternoon the legal advice will determine his next step. If that county decides to pursue tax collection arising from the end of the property tax exemption for Giddings’ former Garden City home, she could appeal to the Ada County Board of Equalization, the Tribune reported Friday.

It’s not clear how the back-and-forth might turn out, but Giddings told the Free Press she has abided by the law.

“They’ve got their lawyers looking at it so if I try to respond through the media, I don’t think it’s going to be helpful,” Giddings said Friday, April 20. “It sounds like we’re going to have a lawyer fight over this, so I really don’t have anything to say.”

Giddings’ March 30 letter stated “the rules governing eligibility for political office are based upon residency and not domicile – two very distinct legal concepts.”

The Tribune report characterized the letter as suggesting “she still thought of herself as an Ada County resident at the start of 2016” – a view Giddings told the Free Press she did not state in her letter and which she said she does not hold.

“I absolutely was not a resident of Ada County,” she said Friday. “That house still had domicile on the first of January because I couldn’t switch it over to this house until the assessor’s office approved it, and they don’t do that until April 15. That’s their deadline.”

Giddings, a Salmon River High alum who had joined the Air Force and had lived in the Boise area, built a house in the White Bird area ahead of her campaign to represent District 7 in the state House of Representatives.

Giddings’ March 30 letter, which was first published by the Tribune, is online at idahocountyfreepress.com/documents.



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