Lawmakers reach tentative property tax deal

DES MOINES – Iowa legislators have reached a deal to reduce commercial property taxes in the state – a longtime priority of Gov. Terry Branstad.

Lawmakers said the compromise proposal will gradually reduce taxable assessments of commercial properties by 10 percent and provide property tax credits geared for smaller businesses. It also will offer small income tax credits to taxpayers.

Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, D-Council Bluffs, said the compromise included something for everyone. Branstad wanted across the board tax cuts, while Senate Democrats favored credits focusing on small businesses. And House Republicans wanted to use surplus tax dollars to provide income tax credits.

“I think it’s government working like it should,” said Gronstal. “I’d say everybody gave a little bit and everybody got a little bit.”

The bill now must win approval in the Senate and House. Gronstal said he wasn’t sure how quickly it would come up for vote.

Rep. Thomas Sands, R-Wapello, who led the House negotiators on this effort, also described the compromise as good for all parties and said he was optimistic it would win legislative approval.

“It is a step in the right direction. It is the art and definition of compromise,” Sands said. “There’s been a lot of people that campaigned on property tax relief and this would be the opportunity to put this in the law.”

The proposal limits the amount that residential property assessments can grow. It includes small income tax credits of $30 to $60 dollars and increases the state earned income tax credit for low-income workers. And it changes tax rules for properties with multiple residences, like apartment buildings, switching them to residential tax rules, which represents a tax cut.