Iowa House and Senate Approve Competing Property Tax Relief Plans

(Radio Iowa) The Iowa Senate and House have approved competing property tax relief plans. The Senate approach is focused on eliminating some property tax levies, consolidating others, and converting property tax credits for veterans and seniors to more lucrative exemptions. Senate Republicans say it would amount to a roughly 100 million dollars reduction in property taxes. Senator Dan Dawson, a Republican from Council Bluffs, is chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee that drafts tax policy.

“Ultimately I think we’ve probably got the best dog that can hunt here in the Capitol than we’ve had in some time to start to tackle this system,” Dawson says. The House approach would provide 200 million dollars in state money each year to replace local property taxes that go to public schools. Republican Representative Bobby Kaufmann of Wilton is chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. He says lawmakers are listening to Iowans.

“Property taxes are easily the most unpopular tax that exists,” Kaufmann says. The House bill would also limit increases in property tax BILLS to three percent.

“We are delivering significant, real, substantial property tax relief to Iowans,” Kaufmann says. Dawson calls the Senate bill phase one of a long-term effort to reform an unchecked property tax system.

“Our system is broken. Taxpayers are scared and that is why we are here today,” Dawson says. Both bills passed with nearly unanimous support from Republicans and Democrats. Just one Republican in the House and one Democrat in the Senate voted no. Democrats like Senator Pam Jochum say so far it’s been a bipartisan effort to find ways to simplify and streamline property taxes.

“Every one of us cares about this tax system and want to make it work better,” Jochum says. Representative Dave Jacoby (juh-KOH-bee), a Democrat from Coralville, says injecting certainty into the system is a priority.

“This, I believe, helps everyday Iowans,” Jacoby said, “and Democrats are happy to see that our ideals are being met in this bill.” Governor Reynolds has said her focus is on eventually eliminating the state INCOME tax and she’s leaving it up to legislators to craft a property tax reduction plan.