Some bills we dread opening. Property taxes are one of those bills because we feel there is nothing we can do.

ITR believes never-ending property tax increases:

  • Force people on fixed incomes out of their homes.
  • Make it harder for young families to afford their first home.
  • Consume more and more income from renters and homeowners alike.
  • Allow government bureaucrats to steal choices from taxpayers on how and where to spend their money.

Who controls your property tax bill

The county assessor does NOT determine your bill. Members of your city council, the county board of supervisors, and school boards have the largest impact on your final bill when they set their budgets. 

Property taxes are complicated, but the basic formula is simple: assessed value multiplied by rate equals your bill. When a community’s total property value increases and levy rates are not reduced, local government revenue increases automatically; and so does your tax bill. 

Doesn’t Iowa have a new property tax transparency law?

Yes, earlier this year Governor Kim Reynolds signed a property tax transparency bill into law. It will now be more difficult for city council members and county supervisors (but not school board members) to claim they didn’t raise taxes.

Levy rates for city and county budgets will now be automatically adjusted so the property tax revenue generated will be the same as the year before.

If cities and counties want to increase property tax revenue more than two percent, they now must:

  1. Hold an additional public hearing explaining the need for an increase.
  2. Give local taxpayers the opportunity to submit objections to the proposal.
  3. Approve the increase by a two-thirds majority of the board or council.

Because this new law focuses on transparency more than hard limits, citizens must engage in the process to control property taxes.

What about schools?

If you look at the back of your property tax statement, school districts usually have the most significant impact on your total tax. School boards were not included in the transparency bill, but that does not prevent you from contacting your elected school board members. 

Now it is time for ACTION!

If your property’s assessment increased by 10 percent, should local government budgets increase 10 percent too?

It is up to you and your neighbors to make local elected officials reconsider sitting back and reaping the windfall of increased assessments.

To find their contact info, search online for:

  • Your Town City Council”
  • Your County Supervisors”
  • Your School Board”

Email addresses are usually posted, and sometimes phone numbers are included.

What should I say to my local elected officials?

  • Cut the rate!
  • Remind them that government budgets should not grow faster than household budgets.
  • Ask them to justify a budget increase larger than the cost of living and inflation. 
  • Tell them that spending more taxpayers dollars will not solve every problem.
  • Oh, one more thing, CUT THE RATE!

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