A Safe Space for Innovation

A streamlined path to market leads to greater innovation, more economic growth, and lower prices for consumers. The concept of a regulatory sandbox has emerged as a popular way to promote innovation and experimentation while still operating within the confines of government oversight. A regulatory sandbox is essentially a controlled environment where businesses can test ideas, products, and services without […]

Iowa’s Next Step: Eliminate the Income Tax

In 2022, Iowa led what has been called a state-level “flat-tax revolution.” The last few years have been historic for state-based tax reform, with the Tax Foundation reporting that 43 states passed some form of tax reform in 2021 or 2022 and in 2023 nearly a dozen states continued the trend. Now, Iowa has the opportunity to build on its previous good work in this area by being the first state in the nation to eliminate its income tax.

Biden’s Budget Battles

The game of chicken being played in Washington, D.C. over next year’s federal budget and the debt ceiling is the latest example of why we are glad to do our work in Iowa, not the nation’s capital. While President Joe Biden seemingly wants to be handed a blank check for federal spending, Speaker Kevin McCarthy and House Republicans are demanding […]

Iowans Want Restraints Applied to Government’s Ability to Grow

The most recent Iowans for Tax Relief Foundation Poll, conducted by Cygnal, shows a majority of Iowans want to see restraints applied to government’s ability to grow. Two-thirds of those surveyed (66.6%) support the legislature setting limits on how much a local government can tax and spend, while nearly as many Iowans (61.3%) would support a constitutional amendment requiring a […]

Property Taxes Rise as Cities Suffer From Mission Creep

It turns out that defining the proper role of local government, deciphering between wants and needs, and frustrated property taxpayers are not dynamics that are unique to Iowa.  Our friends at

The Cardinal Institute in West Virginia are working through those same issues in their state.  In a recent article, Cardinal’s Executive Director, Garrett Ballengee joined with Mark Moses, a former city finance administrator and local budget expert, to examine municipal finance and discuss the concept of mission creep.

Tax Rates Never Sleep

As Iowans wrapped up their New Year’s celebrations in January, they were greeted by a new tax code with lower income tax rates for families and businesses. With even more tax cuts scheduled, and a complete elimination being considered, Iowa’s lawmakers are steadily improving our state’s tax climate. When considering the top corporate income tax rate, Iowa has moved from the highest rate in the country (50th) at 12.00 percent in 2018, to a better, but still high rate of 8.40 percent (41st) in 2023. Similarly, Iowa’s individual income tax rate has moved from 8.98 percent (46th) in 2018, to 6.00 percent (33rd) this year.

Three Pillars of Regulatory Reform

Iowa’s Administrative Code contains over 20,000 pages and 190,000 restrictive terms. Utilizing the three pillars of regulatory reform to re-shape Iowa’s regulatory system is a way to propel our state ahead. We all remember our civics and social studies classes that taught us about government, don’t we?  We learned the separation of powers between the three branches of government- Legislative, […]

The Road to Eliminating Income Tax

Iowa’s Individual Income Tax Could be on the Road to Elimination The Iowa Senate kicked off February with a bang by introducing a measure to lower both individual and corporate tax rates, before placing the individual income tax on a path to elimination. Senator Dawson’s bill (SSB1126) would help Iowa maintain its competitive position, while allowing taxpayers to keep more […]

A Primer on Ending Fund Balances

Unassigned General Fund dollars beyond 15-30% of annual General Fund Expenditures might be  excessive. The concept of reserve funds and ending fund balances have been discussed by lawmakers and local officials alike in recent days at the Iowa Capitol and in the press.  It’s something we’ve had our eyes on for years here at Iowans for Tax Relief Foundation.  Following […]

A Victory for Iowa Families

Iowa Passes Student First Act The Students First Act creates a universal ESA that will be funded with the state’s share of funding per pupil, which is currently $7,598. This is a victory for families across Iowa. Taxpayer-Funds Used Against Own Interests Taxpayer-funded lobbying occurs when political subdivisions, such as counties, cities, and school districts, pay lobbyists with money they have […]

Iowa Passes Students First Act

The Students First Act is a victory for families across Iowa. Last fall when ITR Foundation wondered aloud what might happen with education in 2023, we were optimistic that it could be something big.  After all, Governor Kim Reynolds had just won re-election by nearly 20 points after making school choice the focal point of her campaign.  The Senate had […]

Legislature Poised to Act on Property Taxes

Property Taxes Become Legislative Priority Property taxes are making headlines across Iowa, and legislative leaders are beginning to speak out about their intentions to address the growing issue. With the legislature poised to act, what can they do to rein in property taxes? ITR Foundation recently released its Property Tax Toolkit. This toolkit provides the history of how local property taxes […]

Solutions to Iowa’s Growing Property Tax Problem

Iowa has too much government. Citizens have benefitted from conservative leadership at the state level that has delivered multiple rounds of tax cuts and eased the regulatory burden on businesses and employees, but big-government objectives like property tax growth are on autopilot with no off ramp in sight. Reining in the growth of local government requires solutions to numerous issues.

Iowans for Tax Relief Foundation (ITRF) has created this toolkit to deliver a concise and easily digestible public policy guide for state and local officials who are interested in property tax reform. Since no single policy solution will “fix” Iowa’s property tax, this toolkit offers concrete ideas for policymakers that will bend the expense curve and eventually reduce the burden on taxpayers.

It’s Coming!

2023 Will Be a Big Year for Iowa Taxpayers Iowa taxpayers will start seeing income tax relief in just a few weeks as a result of the historic tax reform the legislature passed and Governor Kim Reynolds signed into law this year. At this moment, Iowa has a progressive income tax, with nine brackets topping out at 8.53 percent. In […]

Direct Notification

Direct notification is an aggressive transparency measure forcing local governments to be honest with taxpayers about how their property tax bills will be affected by potential spending increases. Iowans are frustrated with high property taxes, but very few understand the complexity of the system. In 2019, the property tax transparency and accountability law required each city and county to hold a public hearing focused on the proposed budget and total property taxes needed to fund that budget. Information about this hearing such as the date, time and location are required to be published and posted on the local government’s website, social media accounts and the local newspaper.

Assessment Equity and Fairness

All properties should be assessed equally using the same standards to ensure Iowans are not paying more than their fair share in property taxes. Iowa has six different classifications of real property used for property tax purposes: agricultural, residential, commercial, industrial, public utility, and railroad. State law requires property subject to taxation to be assessed at 100% of its fair market value, with an exception for agricultural land, which is assessed using a five-year average productivity calculation.

Consolidation of Property Tax Levies

Having multiple property tax levies allows local governments to shift spending outside the regular general levy driving up the overall cost of government on taxpayers. BACKGROUND No municipality in the State of Iowa may levy a tax unless it is specifically authorized to do so by state law. Over time, the legislature has approved multiple different property tax levies. For […]

November-Only Revenue and Spending Questions

Financial questions that directly affect property taxes and determine some of the most-important decisions affecting local property taxpayers should be held during general November elections when voter turnout is highest. The Iowa Constitution mandates that the general election be held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November of each even-numbered year. This includes county officers, such as auditor, sheriff, treasurer, recorder, county attorney, and supervisors, as well as nonpartisan offices, including public hospital trustees, soil and water conservation commissioners, county agricultural extension councils, and township officers. City and school elections are held on the same day in November, except in odd-numbered years.

Uniform Disclosure

All counties should have the same uniform presentation that contains the amount owed, compared with the previous year, and a list of all levies, broken down by the relevant authorities to provide taxpayers with a complete picture of their tax bill. The Iowa State County Treasurer’s Association provides property tax information for all 99 counties. Taxpayers can simply click on their counties and enter their information to view their property tax bills.

Taxpayer-Funded Lobbyists – copy

Taxpayer dollars should be used to advance the public good, not to bankroll lobbyists who advocate against taxpayers’ interests. Taxpayer-funded lobbying is when political subdivisions such as counties, cities and school districts, pay lobbyists with money they have received from taxes. This can include membership fees in government sector lobbying associations like the Iowa League of Cities, Iowa Association of Counties, and the Iowa Association of School Boards.  It can also include local governments hiring and contracting with lobbyists directly.  For instance, in 2022 Linn, Marion, and Polk counties spent a combined $190,000 on lobbying.