Iowans For Tax Relief released their 2019 legislative issues guide earlier this week. There are a handful of fiscal areas the group honed in on, with property taxes being a top concern.
Iowa ranks 39th in property taxes according to the Property Tax Component Rankings, 2019. The Hawkeye State was 40th in 2016 and 2017 before dropping one spot in 2018.
According to Iowans For Tax Relief, local governments are expanding faster than the rest of the state. From 2000-2017, inflation and population growth increased 56 percent. Social Security’s cost of living adjustment went up 46 percent. But local property taxes skyrocketed by 103 percent.
“Property taxes are quickly becoming unaffordable for too many Iowans,” the group’s legislative packet said. “The property tax bills received by Iowans last fall continued to increase. Many local governments have avoided hiking property tax rates, instead relying on increased assessments to drive property tax revenue higher and higher.”
The group highlighted New York — yes, New York — as a state where property tax growth is limited to lesser of 2 percent or rate of inflation. It takes 60 percent voter approval to override the limit. According to The Empire Center for Public Policy, the caps have saved nearly an estimated $1 billion.
Utah maintains the same level of property taxes as the prior year. There’s a public notification with a hearing and local official approval process in order to override.
According to Iowans For Tax Relief, a property tax revenue growth limit would not interfere with the assessment process, but could control the increase of property tax bills while ensuring local governments continue to have enough revenue to fund their priorities.
There is no need to look beyond the “radical growth” of the budgets of local governments to find the root of the problem, the group said.
Iowans For Tax Relief is encouraging a property tax revenue limitation in Iowa’s code. That would help keep local government from growing beyond what property owners and other taxpayers can afford, the group said.