March 5th Special Election: Property Tax Increases Take Center Stage on Ballots

More than a dozen school districts and one county are seeking property tax hikes on top of assessments that are already elevated. The March 5, 2024, special election in 13 school districts and one county will put property tax increase questions before voters. The school districts are looking for increases in their physical plant and equipment levies (PPELs), which generate […]

What Is a Revenue Purpose Statement?

Voters should pay close attention to why a district wants a Revenue Purpose Statement (RPS) and what it intends to do with the proceeds. Details A Revenue Purpose Statement (RPS) is a ballot measure describing how a school district will spend sales tax funds the State of Iowa has dedicated to public schools through a program called Secure an Advanced Vision for Education […]

Your Dollars, Not Their Rates

It’s the dollars those governments are pulling from you each year that matter. When it comes to property taxes, don’t get fooled by smoke and mirrors.  A citizen should focus on how many dollars local governments are taking from them.  That’s it.  Don’t take the bait that some officials will dangle in front of you in the form of property […]

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 […]

Session Preview: Property Taxes

Iowa still ranks in the “Bottom 10” nationally when comparing property taxes. The Tax Foundation recently released its annual 2024 State Business Tax Climate Index, which measures the tax competitiveness across the country. Iowa’s standing on the index has been improving every year, and thanks to continuing tax reforms, the 2024 results continued the trend. Last year, Iowa ranked 38th […]

Local Governments to Fund Basic Income Programs

This potential “solution” to economic inequality and poverty is nothing more than a wealth re-distribution tactic that places hard-working taxpayers in the crosshairs. The concept of “Guaranteed Income” or “Universal Basic Income” was introduced to many Iowans by Andrew Yang’s 2020 presidential campaign. Put forth as a potential solution to economic inequality and poverty, its proponents argue that providing a […]

Iowa’s Lesson from Colorado’s Proposition HH: New Spending Can Hide in “Tax Relief”

This past election was important for Iowa taxpayers. In addition to candidates for local government offices, Iowans voted on numerous bond proposals covering a variety of county, city, and school district projects. If all of the bond questions had passed, it would have meant $1.72 billion in new spending. During the election, only 22 of the questions achieved the required 60 percent majority for approval, representing an estimated $951.9 million. These results suggest taxpayers are paying more attention to bond questions owing to Iowans’ mounting frustration with high property taxes and recent legislation designed to increase participation.

Local Elections Shape Our Communities

By electing responsible city council members and school board officials, and by carefully considering bond issues, we can have a significant impact on the quality and cost of our lives. Voting in local elections, which in Iowa this year includes city council, school board, and new bond issues, is of critical importance for every citizen. While national elections often steal […]

No More Blank Checks

Despite claims of inflation fears, the data shows city and county budgets have been outpacing inflation for years. An Axios Des Moines article about recent property tax reforms really caught our eye. In the article, a handful of city and county leaders in Iowa were lamenting new changes to Iowa law meant to rein in the growth of property taxes. One […]

Local Government Property Tax Collection in Iowa

Local governments have a tax and spend mentality. For long-lasting property tax relief to occur, the state legislature must focus on reining in overall spending rather than reconfiguring how spending is done. Conversations about property taxes frequently focus on one of the major taxing bodies: cities, counties, or school districts. And rightfully so, as those three types of local governments […]

Tax Cuts Are Not the Problem

Instead of crying wolf every time a minimal amount is cut from their revenue growth, local governments should rein in their spending. The dust hasn’t even settled on a new property tax law that provides tax breaks to seniors and veterans and local governments are already crying wolf. An article published by Axios Des Moines claims the new property tax […]

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 […]

Seniors: Don’t Miss Out On Your New Property Tax Relief

While the homestead exemption will reduce property taxes by exempting a certain amount of a home’s value from taxation, it will be short-lived if local governments are not given a spending limitation. Iowa lawmakers responded to constituent complaints of rising assessments and growing property tax bills with the most comprehensive property tax reform package in over 30 years. One specific […]

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 […]

Upset About Your Property Taxes?

This article was published in the Cedar Rapids Gazette. A spending limit applied to local governments requiring them to earn a vote of the people to raise spending forces governments to be more accountable and to justify new spending. Taxpayers across the state are upset after receiving their property assessment notices in the mail. Property assessments in Iowa have increased, […]