The 150 elected supergeniuses at the Iowa legislature weren’t shy about deciding what forms of energy production deserve your tax money, and they also invested tax dollars in a private baseball park in Dyersville. Still, they at least avoided making taxpayers pay for other peoples “innovative” investments or ESOP consultants.
The legislature failed to pass the Governor’s highest priority, a reform of Iowa’s commercial property taxes, though they did vote to curb some of the worst abuses of TIF districts.
Bills that passed include:
- TIF Reform. HF 2460, the TIF reform, keeps taxpayers from diverting TIF receipts and requires audits of projects. It’s a small step against local crony capitalism.
- Field of Dreams. The legislature passed and the Governor signed a bill (SF 2329) to let an athletic complex built on the location of the Kevin Costner movie to keep sales taxes it collects. The movie says “if you build it, they will come.” The legislation says “If you lobby hard enough, they’ll vote for almost anything.” Any bill passed for the benefit of a specific taxpayer is by definition bad policy.
- Tax Credits for green energy.SF 2342 provides “tax credits for the construction and installation of solar energy systems and geothermal heat pumps, modifying sales and use tax provisions related to property purchased for resale, and creating a sales tax exemption for certain items purchased for use in providing vehicle wash and wax services.” Because the Iowa legislature knows better than you how you should heat your house.
Bills that died, mercifully:
- The misbegotten “anchor manufacturing” or “supply chain incentive” bill. (HF 2471)
- The extension of the Iowa Capital Gain break to certain sales to ESOPs (HF 2284) (UPDATE, 5/15: they snuck part of this in)
- A special break for executive stock bonuses (HF 2311)
- A 100% state tax credit for investments in the Iowa “Innovation Fund.” (HSB 648)
- An “Amazon Tax” (SF 2309) that would have enabled struggling Main Street retailers like Wal-Mart to compete on a more level playing field with internet behemoths selling stuff out of their basements.
It’s unfortunate that the legislature couldn’t agree on a way to improve Iowa’s awful commercial property tax, but maybe we’ll be better off in the long run making it an issue in the upcoming election. It would be even better if they would take up the issue of tax reform generally. I suppose an election over the merits of the Quick and Dirty Iowa Tax Reform Plan would be too much to hope for.
The Quad City Times has more coverage of the end of the session.