State Auditor says report from his office shows property taxes are regressive

DES MOINES — State Auditor Rob Sand has released a report of all the property tax levies in Iowa and Sand says it shows the property tax is regressive.

“Fairness in taxation is a big issue and knowing now, as we have now proven, that lower income and middle income, middle class Iowans pay a higher rate on their taxes per thousand dollars of valuation than wealthy Iowans, I think that’s an important consideration for policy makers,” Sand says.

Sand says the lowest overall levies are in northwest and north central Iowa.  “Rates are a little bit higher in central and southern Iowa,” Sand says, “and in most large and mid-sized cities as well.”

Sand has released a series of maps showing the tax rates in the 4100 property tax districts in Iowa.  “Until today some people have suspected but we have never known that in fact when compared to median income rates, according to Census data, that property taxes in Iowa are in fact a regressive tax,” Sand says. “What that means is that working class and middle class Iowans pay a higher rate on their property taxes than wealthy Iowans do.”

Sand reviewed property tax rates in 2014, 2017 and 2024. He is not making recommendations for changes in how cities, counties, school districts and other local government entities collect property taxes. Iowans who own property get a notice in August about payments that are due in September and March.