The Iowa House has passed a bill that links the property tax rates of business and commercial property with agland and residential property. It’s designed to answer the complaints of business owners who say Iowa property taxes are cutting too deeply into their profits. Representative Kraig Paulsen, a Republican from Hiawatha, says business owners do have a legitimate complaint.He says a study shows tax rates in Iowa on commercial and business property rank fourth-highest in the nation. Industrial property tax rates in Iowa are 12th highest in the country. Representative Rob Hogg, a Democrat from Cedar Rapids, says business owners are paying dramatically higher property tax bills. He says property taxes on commercial and industrial property have gone up two-hundred-45 percent in the past 17 years. If the bill becomes law, business property taxes will be stabilized, but some contend homeowners may see an increase in their rates. Hogg tried but failed to get the House to grant a state tax credit to those who own business, commercial or industrial property. “If this body wants commercial and industrial property tax relief we should be willing to pay for it ourselves rather than complicating the tax code and forcing residential home owners to pay more,” Hogg says. But Representative Kraig Paulsen, a Republican from Cedar Rapids, disputes the idea home owners will end up paying higher property taxes if the bill becomes law. “There is no automatic increase to residential property values,” Paulsen says. Paulsen defends linking all classes of property — residential, agricultural, business, commercial and industrial — so in the future they’ll all go up at the same rate. “It is a property tax reform proposal, admittedly not as comprehensive as some proposals, but it is reform, nonetheless,” Paulsen says. The bill would create a new state appeal board to hear complaints from citizens who think their property taxes are too high. This new state board would have the authority to reverse decisions made by local property tax appeal boards and could even order a property tax refund. The bill cleared the House on a 65 to 33 vote. It must clear the Senate, too, and get the governor’s signature, though, before it would become law.
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