Constitutional Amendments Proposed for Iowa Taxpayers

Constitutional protections exist for other state funds, and it is time for taxpayers to receive that same benefit. 

As part of a historic income tax reform proposal the Iowa House and Senate are introducing two proposed amendments to the Constitution that would serve as protections for taxpayers. Both amendments would make it more difficult for a future legislature to increase rates or return to a progressive tax system, meaning one with multiple brackets and escalating rates.

The first constitutional amendment would require a supermajority (two-thirds majority) vote of both chambers of the legislature to approve an income (individual and corporate) tax increase. While this would be a strong taxpayer protection, it would not be unique to Iowa. Currently, 16 states have some form of supermajority requirement for tax increases, including seven with that protection enshrined in their constitutions. A supermajority requirement would also force the legislature to justify why a tax increase was needed and it would most likely require bipartisan support to approve an increase.

The second constitutional amendment being proposed would constitutionally protect the flat tax. This would prevent a future legislature from jettisoning the flat tax in favor of returning to a progressive tax system. Specifically, the amendment “prohibits more than one income tax rate above zero.” All taxpayers across Iowa benefit when there is a single, low tax rate.

Constitutional protections exist for other state funds, and it is time for Iowa taxpayers to receive that same benefit.  “It’s easy for politicians to yield to the noisy special interests as long as the taxpayer keeps quietly paying the bills,” stated the late David Stanley, the founder of Iowans for Tax Relief and Iowans for Tax Relief Foundation and a longtime champion of taxpayer protections.  Mr. Stanley understood the importance of not only a competitive tax code, but also protecting the interests of the taxpayer. These two amendments place the taxpayer first before special interests.

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