Iowa Senate and House approve property tax plan
DES MOINES — The Iowa legislature has approved a compromise bill designed to limit future property tax increases.
Many Iowans saw the assessed value of their home or farmland rise dramatically this spring. Those assessments will impact property taxes due in September of 2024. The bill includes a formula that requires cities and counties to lower property tax levies next year.
“We stop the old practice of assessment windfalls being a windfall for local government budgets,” Senator Dan Dawson, a Republican from Council Bluffs, said.
The bill is projected to save Iowa property owners about $100 million. “It’s a complicated system that’s going to require multiple bills over multiple years,” Dawson said. “The work here isn’t finished. It’s only just begun.”
The bill hikes the homestead credit for property owners who are 65 and older to $6500, providing relief for an estimated 200,000 Iowans. More than 100,000 Iowa veterans will get a property tax exemption that’s double the current homestead credit for veterans. Representative Bobby Kaufmann, a Republican from Wilton, called those are big moves for veterans and older Iowans.
“For all Iowans the predictability and the transparency that this bill brings is a big deal and for all Iowans the foundational changes that we’re making is a big deal,” Kaufmann said, “and what I’m going to sit here on the floor today and say is phase one of bold property tax relief.”
The bill passed the Senate Tuesday morning unanimously. Senator Pam Jochum, a Democrat from Dubuque, said it will slow the growth of property taxes. “It’s a $6 billion-plus system,” Jochum says, “and we all know that every tax system can use some change”
The bill passed the House Tuesday afternoon on a 94-1 vote. Representative Elinor Levin, a Democrat from Iowa City, was the only no vote in the legislature. All other House Democrats, like Representative Sharon Steckman of Mason City, voted for it, but say they prefer the proposals in the original House version of the bill rather than the final compromise.
“I wonder why we’re rushing it through,” Steckman said. “Do we not want any comments from people that this might affect? I thought we were all for local control. We’re taking away that local control.”
Representative Dave Jacoby, a Democrat from Coralville, said despite its flaws, the bill is a move in the right direction. “We’ve listened to the taxpayers of Iowa, we’ve listened to the property owners, we’ve listened to the leasees who are saying: ‘I can’t afford to live here if my taxes go up astronomically,’” Jacoby said.
Governor Reynolds issued a written statement yesterday, saying the package provides much needed property tax relief and lays the groundwork for more reform in the future.