Iowa’s Property Tax History

Iowa’s property tax was first enacted in 1839.  Although it has undergone several changes over the years, it continues to be a substantial burden to taxpayers across the state.   Iowa’s property tax has had a tumultuous history. Iowa’s territorial legislature enacted the first revenue act in 1839, creating a tax levy on real and personal property. This form of […]

The Assessor is NOT to Blame

Don’t miss who is truly in charge of your property taxes. When county board, city council, and school board members increase spending, taxes go up; when their spending decreases, taxes go down. It’s as simple as that. We’ve all heard it around our communities: “Watch out: the assessor is coming around, which means property taxes are going up!” or “Don’t […]

Tax Foundation 2023 Business Tax Climate Index

Iowa’s tax climate is improving, and more work is needed to lower income and property taxes, but our state has made substantial progress. Once Iowa’s tax reform is fully implemented, it is estimated that Iowa will have the 13th-best tax ranking in the nation. The Tax Foundation has released the 2023 State Business Tax Climate Index, which ranks the states […]

IRS Not Immune To Inflation

Don’t let these changes fool you. Nobody should believe that the pain of inflation is going to be erased by these IRS adjustments. The federal government’s tax collecting agency released their annual inflation adjustments this month, proving that even the IRS is not immune to inflation.  These updates are an attempt to keep inflation from leading to a de facto […]

A New Sales Tax is a LOST Opportunity

Increasing an existing tax or creating new ones rarely provides tax relief. The government tends to benefit more than the taxpayer. When cities sent local option sales tax (LOST) increases to the ballot, they told residents half of the new revenue would be directed toward property tax relief. To the contrary, as one frustrated Iowan in the Des Moines metro […]

Two Competing Visions of Government

The Cato Institute has released their 2022 Fiscal Policy Report Card on America’s Governors.  Iowa’s Kim Reynolds was not only one of just five governors who received an A grade from Cato, but this data driven report calculated her score as the highest in the nation!  Since 2008, this report has graded the fiscal policies of our nation’s governors from […]

Reynolds Gets an “A”

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds was not only one of just five governors who received an “A” grade, but her score was the highest in the nation! The Cato Institute has released its 2022 Fiscal Policy Report Card on America’s Governors.  Iowa’s Kim Reynolds was not only one of just five governors who received an A grade from Cato, but this […]

Senator Jack Whitver

People are angry, frustrated, and worried about where our economy is going. At the state level, Iowa is reducing taxes and reducing spending to combat the bad decisions made in Washington D.C.   Iowa Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver is our guest on this episode of ITR Live. As Majority Leader, Whitver leads the Senate Republican caucus, not just through […]

There’s a Red Wave Rising

The latest poll shows tremendous support for conservative candidates up and down the ballot. The Generic Ballot tested at +17 for the GOP, indicating the strongest political environment for Republicans in generations.   Nobody would ever mistake any of the ITR staff for Creedence Clearwater Revival on karaoke night, but just as CCR saw a bad moon rising, we see […]

Iowa’s Leading a Flat Tax Revolution

A flat tax revolution is sweeping the states. Iowa, Mississippi, Georgia, Arizona, and Idaho have all enacted legislation to move toward a flat income tax rate. “In more than a century of state income taxes, [until these recent changes,] only four states have ever transitioned from a graduated-rate income tax to a flat tax,” notes Jared Walczak, Vice President for State Projects at the Tax Foundation.

Harvest Special

Only slightly less inspiring than the harvest season in Iowa is the recently reported strength of our state’s budget and strong fiscal management.

ITR Foundation has the details of the final budget numbers for the past fiscal year and a look at the foundation that has been built for the success of our recent tax cuts. This is the second year in a row Iowa experienced a billion-dollar surplus, as the state ended fiscal year 2021 with a $1.24 billion surplus.

Into the Abyss

ITR Live gets together to talk about Governor Reynolds joining other governors in a lawsuit challenging the Biden Administration’s student loan forgiven plan. The conversation then turns to our state’s growing budget surplus, and how that stands in stark contrast to the exploding federal debt. John has further thoughts on how our massive federal debt might impact our nation’s future.

Giving Property Tax Protection “Teeth”

In 2019, Iowa lawmakers passed a property tax accountability and transparency law. Any city or county government with a proposed budget increase of more than 2% above the previous year must now hold a public hearing first. Then, if the elected body still wishes to raise taxes after holding that hearing, it must achieve a supermajority vote of its members.

While this law is a good start, huge property tax increases in recent years prove that more needs to be done to slow the growth. ITR Foundation is both monitoring legislators’ plans to “give teeth” to the 2019 reforms and investigating other states with similar laws on the books. Nebraska, for instance, just implemented a tax accountability and transparency policy, so we traveled to Omaha for the first related public hearing.

Avoiding “Tax Shifts” for a Taxpayer Win

Politicians’ talk about tax relief doesn’t always mean the taxpayer wins in the end. Not all tax relief is created equally, as a comparison of Iowa with its neighbor to the west will show.

Iowa enacted historic tax reforms in March that significantly cut income taxes and reduced taxpayers’ liability. This change was possible because the state had been prudent with its dollars. Iowa did not increase spending, has fully funded reserves, and is experiencing a billion-dollar budget surplus. That is what a taxpayer victory looks like.

Lessons Learned from Iowa Tax History

By Sarah Curry, DBA At the end of the 19th Century, Iowa levied property taxes on just about everything. Yes, real estate and homes like we do today, but also jewelry and other personal property, household goods, and intangibles such as mortgages, bonds, and stock holdings. Taxes were widely felt to be burdensome, unequal, and unfair, leading many Iowans to […]

Combating Runaway Property Taxes

Recent headlines in Central Iowa are focused on an upcoming round of real estate assessments for properties in Polk County.  Long-time Polk County assessor Randy Ripperger estimates that residential assessments will increase by 22% next year.  We doubt Polk County residents will be the only Iowans experiencing a large jump in their assessed values; anyone who has tried to purchase […]

Iowa Sales Tax Holiday is No Cause for Celebration

A sales tax holiday is a limited time period during which a state frees purchases of specific items from state and local sales tax. At first glance this seems like a good policy from a tax-skeptical, pro-consumer perspective — giving people a break — especially when times are tough, as they are, now, with high inflation. However, sales tax holidays create complexities for tax code compliance, do not promote economic growth or increase consumer purchases, and distract policy makers from truly beneficial sales tax reforms.

Biden vs Reynolds: Contrasting Visions

This year the Republican Party selected Governor Kim Reynolds to deliver the official response to President Joe Biden’s State of the Union Address. Governor Reynolds and President Biden offer two completely different views of both political philosophy and statesmanship. Selecting Governor Reynolds to speak on behalf of the Republican Party was not just a high honor, but it also reflected her leadership as a conservative. This contrasts with President Biden’s progressive philosophy and his embrace of a radical liberal agenda that threatens constitutional government.

Did Your County Pass on Mental Health Savings?

Local governments in Iowa started a new fiscal year on July 1.  Those new fiscal years bring new budgets, and many times, new tax rates.  What’s unique about this fiscal year (2023), however, is that Iowa counties are no longer tasked with paying the bill for mental health services.  One key feature of 2021’s tax relief package was the phase out of the mental health levy from county property taxes, as the responsibility of mental health was shifted from counties to the state.

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.

Fostering a Competitive and Friendly Tax Climate

Earlier this year, Governor Kim Reynolds and the Iowa Legislature passed the largest tax relief measure in the state’s history. The historic tax reform will replace the progressive income tax with a flat 3.90 percent rate by 2026. Iowa’s corporate tax rate will also gradually phase down until it reaches a flat 5.50 percent. Starting next year, the reform will repeal all state taxes on retirement income.