Taxes

Joyce Russell/IPR

A top Republican in the Iowa legislature is calling for a comprehensive review of state tax policy, including cutting taxes, now that his party is in full control at the statehouse.   

House GOP leader Chris Hagenow (R-Windsor Heights)  answered questions at a meeting of the Iowa Taxpayers Association today.  

“I think we need a completely fresh look at tax policy in this state top to bottom and we're going to go through that,”  Hagenow said.  “Fundamentally, it’s 'are we going to find a way to reduce the tax burden  of Iowa taxpayers?'”  

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A tax break Iowans enjoy on digitally-delivered goods is under consideration at the statehouse.

Officials with the Iowa Department of Revenue today briefed a panel of state lawmakers who are charged with reviewing the tax credits that cost the state treasury hundreds of millions of dollars a year.    

DOR economist Amy Harris said Iowans currently do not pay sales tax when they download e-books, movies, or software from the internet.   

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As a boy he lived in a refugee camp in his native Afghanistan. As a teenager he fled from the Taliban to England. Now, in his early thirties, Hamdullah Mohib serves as an ambassador to the U.S. from Afghanistan.

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Shoppers in parts of Warren and Taylor counties will be paying an extra penny of sales tax starting today.

In March, voters in several communities in Warren County approved the new one-cent tax known as the local option sales tax or LOST.

The vote covers portions of the cities of Des Moines and West Des Moines that reach into Warren County.   

Victoria Daniels at the Iowa Department of Revenue says the tax isn't in effect elsewhere in those larger communities.

FLICKR / 401(K) 2012

If you still haven’t completed your 2015 state income taxes, today is the filing deadline. If you're late filing, be prepared to pay a penalty of an extra ten-percent on top of whatever you owe.

"I will say that typically there is a very slight grace period," says Victoria Daniels of the Iowa Department of Revenue, "but I encourage people strongly to get their returns in and file them electronically and make their payments no later than 11:59 pm."

Flickr / 401(K) 2012

Though Monday is the deadline to file federal income tax returns, Iowans still have another two weeks before they must hand over their state income taxes. 

The Iowa Department of Revenue advises Iowans to file electronically, and depending on your income and veteran status there is software people can use for free.

"If you are going to get a refund, you will get it much quicker," says IDR spokeswoman Victoria Daniels. "A lot of the software programs, they actually do the calculations for you, and so you are less likely to have mistakes."

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The popularity of online shopping may be behind slower growth in Iowa sales tax collections in recent months.  

That’s according to one member of the Revenue Estimating Conference which reports lackluster growth in the Iowa economy.

The REC met Wednesday and predicted only a slight increase in tax revenues since their last assessment in December.  

Department of Management Director Dave Roederer says they are most concerned about sales tax collections.

John Pemble/IPR

A compromise tax policy bill passed the Iowa House and Senate Tuesday and will now go to Governor Branstad for his consideration.    

The bill matches up the Iowa tax code with federal law at a cost of nearly $100 million to the state treasury.  

Backers say farmers and small businesses have enjoyed a tax break on major purchases in the past.  

They bought machinery expecting that this year, so there was an outcry when Democrats and the Governor wanted to change course.   

Photo by Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

The value of farmland is riding high, and so are the taxes farmers pay on that property. But as those numbers remain steady, the actual income farmers make from the land has tumbled, leaving some farmers to push for a discount on their tax bill.

Larry Tegeler raises corn and soybeans along with some cattle in northeast Nebraska. He started farming about 30 years ago, and the first land he ever bought was a field near the small town of Meadow Grove.

On a windy fall afternoon, Tegeler looked over the 160 acres of rolling, sandy soil he purchased in 1987.

Joyce Russell/IPR

A years-long battle between Iowa’s community banks and its credit unions flared up at the capitol today, where a legislative committee is conducting a routine review of tax credits.  

The financial institutions are taxed differently, and banks argue it’s an unlevel playing field.  

Kevin VanderLee with the Iowa Bankers Association describes a new community bank that was started in Johnston.

“There were individuals who made their investment to start a bank,” VanderLee says.

Joyce Russell/IPR

There was emotional testimony today before a legislative committee over a new tax break for Iowa manufacturers which Democrats say the legislature should have signed off on.   

The Branstad administration proposes a sales tax exemption on more of the supplies manufacturers purchase, from drill bits to lubricants and coolants, and from saw blades to air filters and hydraulic fluids. 

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It would be easier for farmers to receive a sales tax exemption on off-road vehicles under a bill still eligible for passage by the 2015 legislature. 

Farmers get a sales tax exemption for machinery and equipment used for farming, including ATV’s.    But the law says the vehicle must be used directly for production agriculture.  

Victoria Daniels at the Department of Revenue says by law you can’t use the vehicle  “in preparation for or subsequent to” agricultural production.   She says that’s hard to enforce.

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A new tax break for Iowa’s casino industry has so far not made it through the Iowa legislature. 

But backers say if it doesn’t pass this year, they will bring the issue back in 2016.  

Wes Ehrecke with the Iowa Gaming Association says casinos shouldn’t have to pay state sales tax on the full amount if a gambler is paying part of his bill with a coupon.

“You have a tax on unreal money, it’s fake money, it’s a coupon,” Ehrecke says. “And  when you go to Kohl’s or Hy-Vee or somewhere and you get a $20, coupon the business doesn’t pay tax on that.” 

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A Republican-sponsored tax credit will be so small this year that many taxpayers may not even notice it.     

Brooke Raymond

Republican U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley says the Senate will soon vote on the long-delayed tax extenders bill. The legislation groups more than 50 tax breaks, including wind energy incentives.

Because Iowa is a leader in wind energy production, Grassley has been vocal on the need to extend the tax credits. But Grassley says the bill doesn’t go far enough.

Joyce Russell/IPR

At a forum today, Democratic and Republican lawmakers differed sharply on whether the legislature can honor its commitments to local governments.

Amy Mayer/IPR file photo

Several dozen tax provisions remain unsettled as Congress returns home for the Thanksgiving holiday.

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Oct 7, 2014
IPR's Pat Blank

Iowa farmers and gardeners harvesting a bumper crop of produce can now get a tax credit when they make a donation to their local food bank.

Iowa’s major party candidates for governor  traded barbs over Democrat Jack Hatch’s career as a property developer in Des Moines.   

Durrie Bouscaren / Iowa Public Radio

Google, Facebook and Microsoft have all made large investments to build large data center facilities in the state of Iowa. All three have also received multi-million dollar tax exemptions, rebates, and grants to entice them to come. In Part One of Iowa Public Radio’s data center series, we talked about why our state appeals to these Silicon Valley titans. Today, reporter Durrie Bouscaren visits Council Bluffs to ask, what’s in it for our state? 

Democrats in the Iowa Senate  got the ball rolling on a bill that’s a dream come true for  environmentalists  and natural resource advocates.   The bill raises the state  sales tax for a natural resources trust fund that voters approved by constitutional amendment two years ago.  Backers added a tax cut​  to the bill to soften the blow.    

U.S. Department of Labor

The Chairs of the Iowa Senate and House Transportation Committees say they're still hopeful two key proposals can win approval in the final days of the legislative session.  A bill approved by the Iowa Senate would've made texting while driving a primary offense.  In other words, an officer could stop and ticket a driver for texting while driving, without the driver committing another moving violation.  That bill failed to win approval before a funnel deadline in the House, but Senator Tod Bowman, a Maquoketa Democrat, says the bill will likely come up again in future sessions and Represent

Photo by John Pemble

Governor Terry Branstad ordered the closure of the Iowa Juvenile Home in Toledo last month. It was after an investigation uncovered some girls were held in isolation cells. Last week Senate Democrats unveiled a bill to reopen the home under a new program. IPR's Clay Masters talks with Statehouse Correspondent about the juvenile home as well as the likelihood of lawmakers raising the state's  gas tax.

Photo by John Pemble

Iowa lawmakers are returning to Des Moines for a third week of overtime. The session was scheduled to wrap up May 3, but legislators continue to negotiate education reform, property taxes, Medicaid expansion, and other key issues.

Photo by John Pemble
John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

Crumbling roads and bridges are fueling renewed debate over raising the gas tax in Iowa.  That’s despite polling that shows a majority of Iowans do not support an increase.  Hear the pros and cons and why some who would pay the most are the ones pushing for the increase.

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

IPR "Morning Edition" Host Sarah McCammon and Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell look ahead to the upcoming week in the Iowa Capitol.

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

It's spring, at the Iowa Statehouse and lawmakers are turning attention to one of the big priorities of the session - reforming commercial property taxes.  Host Joyce Russell runs down the details of the competing plans, and talks with businesspeople, city leaders and taxpayers' rights representatives about how the differing bills would impact them, their businesses and their constituents.

John Pemble / IPR

It looks like smooth sailing for a bill at the statehouse to let Iowa’s  job creation experts hand out more tax credits to potential employers.    Officials say the current cap on credits isn’t enough to meet the demand, as more companies are looking to expand.    But not everyone agrees with  a plan to make sure the employers  come through with the jobs they promise.  

John Pemble / IPR

IPR's Joyce Russell and Sarah McCammon check in on news from the Iowa Statehouse.

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