The top republican in the legislature says establishing a property tax on the state’s race tracks may be the way to come up with the money the state owes the tracks in back-taxes. The tracks are owed about 112-million dollars in back taxes because they won a lawsuit against the state. House Speaker Christopher Rants, a republican from Sioux City, has repeatedly said taxpayers are not going to be footing that bill. Rants says assessing a property tax on “gaming institutions” is one way to ensure education and other state priorities don’t get cut in order to pay the tracks. Since the riverboat operations don’t own much, if any, land, a new state “property tax” on gaming institutions would fall largely on the state’s race track casinos in Altoona, Council Bluffs and Dubuque.The state does not currently levy property taxes, but Rants says it could be the answer to trying to collect the money from the tracks in order to pay the tracks that 112-million. Rants says the property tax idea will be moot, though, if lawmakers pass a gambling expansion bill that reworks the tax rates paid by the state’s riverboats and race track casinos.Rants says the property tax proposal is “plan B”: and is akin to “dropping a bag of hammers” on the heads of the race track owners who waged a legal battle against the state over their taxes and won a big payout in back taxes.
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