ITR's First Annual Tax Day Lunch
Governor Kim Reynolds was the keynote speaker Wednesday for the first annual Tax Day Lunch, co-hosted by Iowans for Tax Relief and NFIB/Iowa. Governor Reynolds, speaking at the Des Moines Botanical Center to over 100 members of ITR and NFIB, credited the “two great organizations” for their work on behalf of Iowa taxpayers.
“It is the people that drive this economy, not the government. When Iowans keep more of their hard-earned money, great things happen,” stated Reynolds.
As she travels the state the Governor said she is inspired and motivated by the feedback she receives. Iowans are honest about what is working and what is not. She cited many examples of how tax cuts have helped employers give bonuses, increase wages, and expand their businesses.
NFIB/Iowa State Director Matt Everson, BerganKDV State and Local Tax Expert Chris Gallo, ITR President Chris Ingstad, and Iowa Taxpayers Association President Tom Sands participated in a panel discussion on tax policies in Iowa at the First Annual Tax Lunch on March 13, 2019.
The Governor added, “ITR has been fighting for Iowa taxpayers for over 40 years. I can’t tell you how important that is. Right now, the Capitol is filled with lobbyists who represent the interests of their clients. Sometimes those interests align with what is good for taxpayers and sometimes they don’t. When ITR is at the Capitol, they are not working for just one business or industry. They represent ALL Iowa taxpayers.”
When talking about last year’s state income tax reform, Reynolds said, “We didn’t accomplish everything we wanted, but we aren’t done. Our intent was to focus on one area and then come back and do the rest.”
Property tax reform is a priority of her administration and legislators this year. “We want to make sure there is transparency and accountability when it comes to increased assessments that often result in increased taxes,” Reynolds said.
After the event, the Governor posted a tweet with some great pictures:
Property Tax Transparency and Citizen Input
ITR President Chris Ingstad and two ITR members spoke in favor of HSB 165, a property tax reform bill, at a House subcommittee meeting this week.
The property tax reforms proposed in HSB 165 will:
- Set a reasonable limit for revenue growth of cities and counties
- Allow an override of that limit by local governments after a transparent process of notifications, public hearings, and vote by elected officials
- Permit citizens to call for a vote of the people if they disagree with the budget passed by their local government
Kendall Kruse from Huxley said, “The swift rise in taxes have me concerned that if my wife and I were to purchase a home tomorrow, how long will it be until we can no longer afford to live there due to tax bills rising faster than our yearly cost of living?”
Urbandale resident Jim Fitts said his property taxes have doubled since 1993. “There are a lot of people in this state that are old like I am — I’m an old guy — but they can’t afford the taxes they’re paying and that, to me, is criminal.”
Kendall and Jim are correct; increased assessments have put property tax increases on autopilot. Iowa does have some property tax protections in place, but these protections aren’t effective at keeping property tax bills in check, and property taxes have become unaffordable for too many Iowans.
Ingstad informed the subcommittee members that, “Thirty-five states have some sort of local budget limit in place already. Those states have shown that if local governments want to exceed the growth cap, voters might be willing to pay for it when the case is made to them, either on the ballot or through a process of hearings. It’s the transparency of tax increases that is important; ensure that an open conversation occurs between local government and local citizen.”
Iowa needs property tax reform that controls the growth of local government and increases transparency and citizen input in that process. We will keep you updated on HSB 165 as it now moves to the full House Ways and Means Committee.
Super-Majority for Tax Increases
ITR’s Government Relations Director, Victoria Sinclair, spoke in favor of an amendment to the Iowa Constitution at an Iowa Senate subcommittee meeting. SJR 16 would require any new income tax increase to be approved by at least two-thirds of both chambers of the legislature and approved by the Governor.
Sinclair said, “SJR 16 is a reasonable taxpayer protection. Often in this building, we forget that the ‘state’s money’ is really the money of hardworking Iowans. If lawmakers decide that more money is needed from the incomes of families across the state, it is a decision that should not be taken lightly. Requiring a two-thirds majority vote by the legislature to raise income taxes is a commonsense protection that puts taxpayers before the noisy special interests that are constantly asking for a bigger piece of their paychecks.”
Iowa has high income tax rates, and a two-thirds vote requirement is an additional protection against tax increases. Individuals, families, and businesses in Iowa deserve to keep more of their hard-earned income.
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