Property taxes, just as with any tax, should not be excessive. Property owners should not be punished for owning property and should not be subject to higher property tax bills just because of increased assessments. Many local taxing authorities collect more revenue each year without increasing property tax rates.
The Taxpayers Association of Central Iowa recently released their City and School Property Tax Report for communities in central Iowa. In the report, they remind taxpayers, “It’s important to focus on property tax revenue, not the property tax rate. Often, a property tax rate that is constant from year to year, or even over many years, is touted as an accomplishment on behalf of taxpayers. It is not necessarily the case. Property taxes are a function of the rate times the taxable value. In times when property valuations are growing, even a constant rate will generate an increase in taxes.”
Cities are one of the larger taxing authorities and their property tax rates have a large variation across the state. Tax Education Foundation has posted the change in property tax revenue, rates, and valuation for Iowa’s 100 largest cities by population.
We encourage you to look at the back of your property tax statement. Each taxing authority is listed along with the total tax and how that compares to the prior year. Understanding where your tax dollars go and communicating with elected officials is an effective way to keep them accountable.