A “fix it” bill is eligible for debate in the Iowa Senate to help the Knoxville Raceway get the money from a tax break it won in 2014.
The legislature and former Governor Terry Branstad agreed the track should get a rebate on some of the state sales taxes paid on a construction project, plus any sales taxes charged on goods and services sold at the facility. Senator Bill Dotzler, a racing fan from Waterloo who is supporting what he calls a “fix it” bill, said state tax officials failed to create a “Raceway Rebate Fund” for the track.
“It was really a Department of Revenue mix-up,” Dotzler said. “It’s still a mystery, but this bill would allow Knoxville to go back and collect the revenue they already submitted.”
A report from the Legislative Services Agency indicates the Iowa Department of Revenue sent the Knoxville Raceway an $18,012 rebate four years ago, but nothing since then. State officials say the Raceway has failed to designate a construction project that’d be eligible for the rebate. The state has kept more than half a million dollars in sales taxes paid on retail sales at the track the last four years.
A bill that has cleared a senate committee would eventually extend up to $1.8 million in sales tax rebates on items and services sold at the track in Knoxville. Over 200,000 people visit facility each year, but Dotzler said it’s facing competition from a sprint car track in Macon, Illinois co-owned by NASCAR driver Tony Stewart.
“The racing industry has gone through some troubled times, in a way, and they want to enhance their fan base, so I’m very supportive of the bill,” Dotzler said. “I think it’s a good bill for Iowa.”
The bill isn’t universally popular, though. Senator Herman Quirmbach of Ames said the state shouldn’t be giving tax breaks to an entertainment business.
“The raceway — everybody tells me how popular it is, how many people come, how successful it is,”Quirmbach said. “All that does is raise a question in my mind: ‘Why do they need a taxpayer subsidy?'”
The Marion County Fair Association owns the Knoxville Raceway. NASCAR owns the Iowa Speedway in Newton. In 2014, Governor Terry Branstad went to the track to sign legislation extending a sales tax rebate to the Speedway.