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Inside the Iowa House: Time to Lower Property Taxes (April 23, 2023)

Last month, Iowans got our bill for property taxes and then a week or so later we received a new assessment on our homes and property.For many, it was a big shock. I’ve heard from folks in my neighborhood and all over the state about assessments that rose anywhere from 25% to well over 50%.  I’ll be honest, it hit me, too, when I saw my own assessment went up by $61,500. But here’s some good news for you.  There were two significant property tax bills that passed the Iowa Legislature this week that are set to make a big difference in how much Iowans pay in property taxes next year. While the House and Senate have two different bills right now, both had strong bi-partisan support in each chamber. In a legislative session dominated by politics and culture wars so far, it’s a pretty good sign that the Iowa Legislature can work together and lower property taxes before we adjourn. The House version, House File 718, is pretty simple. It guarantees that no homeowner or farmer will see their tax bill go up by more than 3% next year.  It limits the tax growth on residential and agricultural properties to 3% annually and limits commercial and industrial properties to 8% annually. The bill also shifts more school funding to the state and off of local property taxpayers.  The Senate version, Senate File 569, takes a different approach but aims to do the same. It consolidates and caps some of the different property tax levies used by local governments. There’s also some additional direct relief to lower property taxes for seniors and veterans.I’ll be honest, neither of these bills are perfect.  We’ve heard from local officials with concerns about both proposals.  They want to make sure they can balance the services Iowans expect locally – low emergency response times, strong public schools, and fixing potholes – with keeping property taxes low. I can’t blame them and certainly share their frustration.  Over the last decade, the Governor and GOP lawmakers made several commitments to cities, counties, and schools to keep property taxes low but then broke that promise a few years later and stripped away state funding. They also gave a huge property tax cut to the wealthiest corporations by shifting the tax burden to homeowners and farmers. From the first day of session, Iowa House Democrats have supported common sense tax changes that reduce property taxes for everyday Iowans – not just corporations and millionaires – while keeping people safe in emergencies and protecting our public schools.   With just a week left in session, time is running out to work together and get consensus on a bill that makes a difference in the tax bill for everyday Iowans. Neither of the bills before us is a perfect solution that solves all of the complexities of Iowa’s property tax system. But these bills are a place to start. I’ll be working to find common ground and get a property tax bill to the Governor’s desk before we adjourn. 

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