Guaranteed Income Veers Away From Role of Local Government

This week’s episode of ITR Live included a discussion of the city of Des Moines’s decision to participate in a pilot program that aims to provide guaranteed income to low-income residents of central Iowa.  While this calls to mind Andrew Yang’s universal basic income proposal from 2020’s Democratic presidential primaries, one significant difference appears to be that this program is being driven by mayors across the country, rather than by the federal government.   In a city that already has a heavy property tax burden, the Des Moines City Council has committed $500,000 to a program that doesn’t fit within the traditional role of local government.

“It’s Easy” To Spend Taxpayer Dollars

Why do local governments believe they need so much of your money? In recent years, Iowa property valuations have increased considerably. Large valuation increases usually translate into increased revenue for local governments in the form of property taxes. Given the impact of inflation, we can expect this trend to continue.  It will be interesting to see how Iowans manage to bear a growing property tax burden while paying more for gas, groceries, and everything else.

What Drives Citizens to Move?

Do you ever get together with friends and instead of socializing about normal topics, you get thrown into a conversation about taxes?  Well, that is exactly what happened to me the other day.  Admittedly, having spent most of my career in public policy, it happens to me a lot.  This time, however, I wasn’t the one who started it.

WHO’S GETTING THE BIGGEST SLICE OF PROPERTY TAX PIE?

Iowa has a long history with property taxes and it is one of the most debated issues, even dating back to before statehood. The very first Legislative Assembly of the Territory of Iowa met in 1838 in Burlington, and one of their primary goals was to develop a revenue system. A few short months later the Iowa Territory created a property tax for residents, levied and collected by the counties – a function which the county still performs to this day.

How Does Your Property Tax Bill Compare?

How’s your property tax bill?  If you tell us it’s too high, we won’t argue with you.  In fact, we keep proposing solutions to deliver stronger taxpayer protections.  But property taxes exist to fund our K-12 education system and city and county governments, as well as other services we all have access to; they are never going away.  So maybe […]

Drive A Tesla, Get Free Property Taxes

Maybe you missed it, but April 3-9 was Affordable Housing Week in Iowa, where one of the main takeaways was that Iowa needs to increase its housing supply. It’s no secret that many states, including Iowa, have a housing shortage. Housing advocacy groups have identified a particular shortage of affordable homes, especially for lower-income Iowa families. In fact, it is such a pressing need that the State has designated $330 million over a five-year period to help aid in the issue.

The Growing Cost of Municipal Debt

With inflation and rising interest rates, it’s normal to worry about the national debt and what that means for our country. But what about Iowa and our local communities?

During the last few years, the state of Iowa tightened its belt and has reduced its overall debt burden. However, the combined total of state and local government debt increased by 5.3% to $18.8 billion in FY2021, the highest percentage increase in a decade.

Truth-in-Taxation: A Rock Chalk Taxpayer Protection

March Madness wrapped up last week with the Kansas Jayhawks being crowned National Champions.  While there may not be many Iowans who joined Jayhawk fans in celebrating that victory, there was another win in Kansas that we can all be happy about: property taxes.  The map above identifies 21 Kansas counties that actually experienced a decline in property taxes this year.

Before examining what caused the big win in Kansas (the property taxes, not the basketball), we should reflect on the property tax situation in our state.  Iowans are demanding property tax relief and nobody can blame them.  Even before inflation reached record highs, putting a major squeeze on household budgets, Iowans felt the pain of having a heavier property tax burden than 40 other states.

Benefiting the Few With Resources From the Many

Most citizens expect the property taxes paid to their city to be used for road maintenance, snow removal, building maintenance, and of course, public safety. These activities are all considered core government services and functions. However, in current times we see some of our city governments spending considerable dollars on things that could be better managed by the private sector – and that’s a problem.

Honesty is the Best Policy

Many people have been probably told by either a parent, grandparent, or even a teacher that “honesty is the best policy.” This rule should also apply to local governments. Taxpayers across the country are demanding answers on why local policymakers cannot deliver property tax relief. In response, a growing number of states are enacting strong Truth-in-Taxation laws that force local […]

A Solution Benefitting All Property Taxpayers

Income taxes aren’t the only piece of Iowa’s tax climate that impedes economic growth; our heavy property tax burden is harmful, too. Iowans are increasingly frustrated about their property taxes, likely because their local governments send them a bill that continues to grow each and every year. Thankfully, a solution exists that will benefit all property taxpayers in Iowa. Utah’s direct notification Truth-in-Taxation law has brought real property tax relief to Utah, and more states are starting to pass this pro-taxpayer reform.

Honesty Leads to Lower Property Taxes

By John Hendrickson, Policy Director for ITR Foundation, and Dave Trabert, Chief Executive Officer of the Kansas Policy Institute   Iowans are growing more frustrated with high property taxes. A majority of Iowans, 63.4 percent, believe that property taxes are too high. The concern over property taxes surpasses the rural-urban divide and political party identification. Taxpayers are often left wondering […]

Placing Property Taxpayers First

Last month, Iowans received their property tax bills, and taxpayers across the state keep asking why their taxes increased so fast. It seems more likely that property taxpayers will see Elvis at their local Casey’s before they see any property tax relief. Iowans across party lines and the urban-rural divide want policymakers to stop making excuses for high property taxes […]

What’s Next for Tax Reform in Iowa

“Today’s legislation ushers in a new era of growth and opportunity in Iowa,” said Governor Kim Reynolds when signing the 2021 tax reform bill passed by the legislature. “But we are not done yet. Next year, I’ll be proposing additional income tax cuts as we continue to make Iowa the most attractive place in America to open a business, raise […]

Reducing Spending Without Sacrificing Services

In many communities across Iowa, local governments continue to ask for more property tax dollars, claiming that critical infrastructure and services will deteriorate without an increase. So, is it possible to reduce spending without sacrificing services? To help answer that question, we sat down with Dave Trabert, CEO of the Kansas Policy Institute. Dave explains how local governments can spend […]

Making Better Use of Your Taxes

Are you frustrated with high property taxes? Too often Iowans are told by local government officials that nothing can be done to lower property taxes. Governments, at all levels, often forget that the money they spend is generated from your tax dollars. It is not the governments money, yet policymakers have no shortage of reasons why they need to spend […]

A Solution to Iowa’s Property Tax Problem

Iowans deserve protection from runaway property taxes. As we look for a solution in Iowa, we recently sat down with the Utah Taxpayers Association to learn how Utah’s Truth-in-Taxation law has provided relief to its citizens. Utah’s Truth-in-Taxation law is considered the most taxpayer-friendly law in the nation and it is the gold standard policy for property tax reform.

Providing Property Tax Protection

Iowans are growing more frustrated with high property taxes and a solution is needed. Since 2000 Iowa property taxes have increased 122 percent more in comparison to population, inflation, and the cost-of-living adjustment for Social Security. The Tax Foundation ranked Iowa with the 10th highest property tax burden in the nation. As a property taxpayer would you consider voicing your […]