Simplifying Property Valuations and Rates

The system used to calculate property taxes in Iowa is too complicated.

It’s easy to get lost in all of the calculations that go into determining your property tax bill, so we’ll try to simplify some of the items for you.  The first thing to remember is property taxes in your community are determined by how much your local elected officials choose to spend.  Beyond that, here are a few other things to keep in mind:

Don’t get caught up in the assessment you just received; the assessed value of your property isn’t a piece of the property tax equation.  The taxable value of your property is what actually goes into the property tax calculation and there are a few more steps that will take place before that’s determined.   Did you know the state has a process for ensuring that assessments (in aggregate) for every jurisdiction are accurate?  It’s called equalization.  Or did you know that the state has a mechanism called rollback that was created to lessen the impact that growing assessments can have on your property tax bill?  It usually provides a substantial reduction to your valuation.

When you receive your property tax bill, flip it over and take a look at all of the taxing authorities that get to carve out a piece of the property tax pie.  Most of us typically think of cities, counties, and schools, collecting property taxes.  Other entities, like community colleges and county hospitals get to levy taxes, too.  Some of these authorities have multiple types of levies they can utilize.  For instance, did you know seven cities in Iowa add a band tax to their residents’ property tax bills?

ITR Foundation has provided more details on valuations and levies below.  You can also head over to to find even more information about local government taxes and spending.


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