New Iowa Law Aims to Improve Transparency in Property Taxes

DES MOINES, Iowa - A new law going into effect with the new year is targeted to improve transparency of property taxes. The statute (Senate File 634) has several provision that will require public disclosure of certain changes to property taxes, which are collected by cities and counties.

Taxpayers Association of Central Iowa President Art Wittmack thinks the law passed by the legislature in 2019 will help residents keep track of ongoing tax hikes. "Property tax collections are going up," said Wittmack. "So this transparency focuses not the levy, but actually the number of dollars collected."

Property taxes typically go up when a home's assessed value is increased by the city or county.

The new law requires a city or county to hold a public hearing if property taxes are increased by one-dollar. Also, any proposed property tax increase above two-percent will now require a two-thirds approval of a city council of county board of supervisors. It further requires counties to publish any approved property tax hike on their website within 10 days.

Wittmack notes property taxes account for a large shares of taxes Iowans pay every year, which residents may not be aware of. "Thirty-Eight percent of Iowa taxes collected are from property tax collections," Wittmack said. "To put that in perspective, 24 percent comes from personal income tax."

He also says property taxes are largely used to pay for local public schools. "If you look at a couple of our local areas, the schools are almost 40 percent of the property tax statement," said Wittmack. "Counties, a little less. Cities, maybe 20 percent." Wittmack added that cities the Taxpayers Association of Central Iowa is in contact with often complain about a shortfall in funding their public employee pension funds, which are supported by property taxes.

(Wittmack was a guest on the Jeff Angelo Show on WHO Radio)

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