County Tax Relief Is Not Deprivation

Counties are cashing in on hefty property taxes from high assessments, and reducing rates won’t halt financial gains. You might hear your county officials complaining they are facing dire straits this year because of the new property tax law. The truth is that too many counties have been cashing in on hefty property taxes from rapidly increasing assessments, and redirecting […]

Twenty-First Century Good Governance at the Local Level

Access to information has become a basic government service, making democracy work. Citizens need the ability to track what government does, and policymakers must produce and have access to historical records. While “good governance” is a broad and subjective term, reviewing the outcomes of public policy decisions can tell us whether it exists or not. At the local government level, […]

Iowa’s Local Bond-Election Reform Is a Model for Other States

The Hawkeye State is on a path of one limited-government-policy victory after another. This article was originally published by National Review. When it comes to politics, Iowa is recognized coast to coast for its first-in-the-nation caucuses during election season. When it comes to policy, Iowa has traditionally not been noticed at all. That began to change after the 2016 election brought Republicans unified […]

City Budget Reserves and the Impact on Taxpayers

Some cities may have collected more taxes than they needed and now they’re stockpiling your cash. Why the numbers matter During debate in the 2023 Iowa Legislature over a technical correction related to the taxable value of properties, the spotlight touched on the topic of reserve funds. The correction in question lowers the amount of taxable valuation cities and other local governments […]

Where are Iowa Cities Spending Property Taxes?

Iowa cities do important work, and that requires the collection of taxes. Problems surface, however, when cities with similar populations and services spend vastly different amounts of taxpayers’ money. Iowa’s 940 cities collect around 30% of all the property taxes we pay each year. Many of us are supportive of spending on law enforcement, emergency management, and roads. Where disagreement […]

Legislature Passes Property Tax Reform Measure

This legislation delivers more transparency and spending restraint for taxpayers. However, future property tax reform must be pursued and include strong budget or spending limits applied to entire local government budgets. A wide-ranging package of property tax reforms were approved inside the Iowa State Capitol this week, as a compromise bill (HF 718) passed both legislative chambers with overwhelming bipartisan […]

Iowans Feeling the Squeeze

The recent ITR Foundation poll shows Iowans are concerned about their own financial stability and the role inflation and government tax-and-spend policies have on their budget. Iowans are increasingly concerned about the economy, with high inflation and national economic uncertainty contributing to their anxiety. A recent poll conducted by ITR Foundation found that 74.4 percent of Iowans believe the nation is heading […]

Truth-in-Taxation Would Benefit Iowa Taxpayers

This article was published in the Iowa Capital Dispatch. Truth-in-Taxation forces local governments to be more transparent, holds local governments accountable, and provides an opportunity for citizens to have an honest conversation with their elected officials about property taxes. Frustration with high property taxes is reaching a boiling point, especially after taxpayers across Iowa are receiving their assessment notices. Taxpayers […]

How Is Your County Spending Property Taxes?

Iowa counties do important work. However, problems surface when counties with similar populations and services spend vastly different amounts of taxpayers’ money. Iowa’s 99 counties collect the third-largest portion of property taxes statewide, after cities and school districts — representing approximately 22 percent of the overall property tax burden. Counties have historically played a major role in the conduct of […]

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.

County Unassigned Fund Balance Transparency

Some counties may be holding on to more reserve funds than necessary. Why the numbers matter. During debate in the 2023 Iowa Legislature over a technical correction related to the taxable value of properties, the spotlight touched on the topic of reserve funds. The correction in question lowers the amount of taxable valuation counties and other local governments can draw from, and […]

Nearly $400 Million in Bond Questions on March 7th Special Election

Iowa county bond information is not easy to acquire. State law should require county auditors to have this information on their website and also require the Secretary of State’s office to aggregate this information so news outlets and interested parties could more easily report on bonds and property tax increases being asked at special elections. On March 7, 2023, thirty-five Iowa […]

Controlling Spending Key to Property Tax Reforms

This article was published in the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier. Despite numerous changes, lasting relief has not been delivered and Iowa currently has the 10th-highest property tax burden in the nation. If you have lived in Iowa for any length of time, then you know property taxes are, without a doubt, the most despised tax in the state. That’s why numerous […]

Local Governments Should Budget Like a Citizen

Iowans and their state government know how to live within their means; it’s time local governments do the same.

If you are following the 2023 Iowa legislative session, then you know there is a lot of proposed legislation aimed at reforming and lowering the property tax. This is because local governments in Iowa have a spending problem. Since 2000, total property taxes collected have increased nearly 120%, well outpacing inflation. The increased spending has put a burden on taxpayers that cannot be ignored.

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 […]

To Achieve Meaningful Property Tax Relief, Right Size Government

At the heart of high property taxes is local government spending. Solving Iowa’s property tax problem will require a commitment to responsible spending limits.

After implementing historic income tax reform, Iowa legislators will be turning their focus on property tax reform. Iowans across the political divide are rightly demanding property tax relief. Nevertheless, property tax reform will not be easy. Property taxes are local taxes and at the heart of high property taxes is local government spending. Solving Iowa’s property tax problem for the long-term will require a commitment to responsible spending limits.

Taxpayer-Funded Advocacy Against Taxpayer Interests

Many Iowans have elected candidates who support school choice and property tax reform. However, local governments opposed to these measures use property tax dollars to fund lobbyists to fight against the will of their constituents. While all Iowans can talk to elected officials to voice their opinions, organizations with specific interests in the process of law-making often hire lobbyists to […]