To the Editor,
Would you like your residential property taxes raised in order to give a big tax cut to Wal-Mart and other out-of-state corporations? Governor Branstad and Republican legislators threaten to shut down state government unless Democrats agree to do just that. Republicans demand a massive corporate tax giveaway disguised as commercial property tax reform.
I agree that we ask too much from commercial property taxpayers. Residential taxpayers pay property taxes on about half of the assessed value of their homes. Farmland is taxed at 10 percent of assessed value. Commercial property taxes, by way of contrast, are based on 100% of assessed value.
This year, an overwhelming, bipartisan majority of the Senate approved real commercial property tax reform worth $200 million. This reform would make the commercial property tax rate the SAME as the residential rate for at least 83% of Iowa commercial property taxpayers, starting by helping small businesses first.
The Republican leaders of the Iowa House took a different approach. Their plan spends almost twice as much to provide about half as much help to small businesses. The reason that’s possible is that the Republican plan favors Wall Street instead of Main Street.
For some reason, Republicans are determined to give millions of state tax dollars to out-of-state corporations. For example, Wal-Mart would get a huge state tax break worth $4.4 million from House Republicans. Governor Branstad actually thinks Wal-Mart should get a $7 million gift.
Much of the money to pay for these corporate tax cuts would come from raising your residential property taxes by as much as 20 percent.
Iowans should demand that any commercial property tax reform focus first and foremost on helping small businesses and not hurting residential property taxpayers.
Democrats simply won’t go along with this massive corporate tax cut. It’s a job killer for Iowa’s smaller towns and the largest residential property increase in state history.
Senator Joe Bolkcom
Chair, Senate Ways and Means Committee