There were major developments at the statehouse yesterday over tax policy. House Republicans unveiled a plan that would revamp the way Iowans’ property taxes are calculated. Backers say it will force counties, cities and other local government to raise tax rates rather than hide tax increases in the assessment of the property’s worth. Rather than having an “assessed valuation” of property — the plan uses the “fair market value” or sale price of a house as the base. Representative Kent Kramer, a republican from Johnston, was among the group of lawmakers who drew up the plan. Kramer says they tried to “think as far out of the box as we could, to take it all the way down and put it back together.” House Speaker Christopher Rants, a Republican from Sioux City, says the goal isn’t to actually lower property taxes, but to make the system more clear. Rants says people don’t understand the current system, and it’s an impediment to growth. Rants says House Republicans want to postphone a rewrite of Iowa’s income tax system ’til next year. Senate Republican Leader Stewart Iverson of Dows says he’s not giving up on income tax changes.Iverson says he’s intrigued by the property tax plan, but he’s going to continue to work to see if an income tax reform plan can be passed yet this month. He says if we want the state to move forward, we need to take a very hard look at the tax system. Jeff Boeyink of Iowans for Tax Relief says his lobbying group favors holding off on income tax reform ’til next year, becasue of the limited time left in the session and the monumental changes that’re being propose. He says it’s important to go out and hear what people think about the plans. Boeyink says his group likes the property tax reform ideas developed by Republicans in the House, things like taking the evaluation process out of the mix and not punishing people for improving their property.
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