An Iowa Farm Bureau Fede­ration (IFBF) analysis shows that, for the first time in history, the total property tax bill paid by Iowans will exceed $5 billion in fiscal 2016. That total bill has increased by over $2.3 billion since the year 2000, the analysis shows.

With Iowa revenues lower and state budgets extremely tight, Iowa lawmakers need to protect Iowa’s property taxpayers during the 2016 legislative session, IFBF President Craig Hill cautioned last week.

"I urge our members to remain vigilant about property tax in­­creases during the 2016 legislative session and to make sure their representatives are fully aware of the concern we have about the potential for an increase," Hill said. "We want to make certain that lawmakers put a priority on measures that protect property taxpayers and don’t try to use property taxes as a default source to fund other programs."

On average, a 500-acre farm paid approximately $10,500 in property taxes during fiscal 2015, the Farm Bureau analysis showed.

Extending protections

During the past three fiscal years (fiscal 2014 through fiscal 2016), property taxpayers have saved a total of $31 million through a funding mechanism that ensures increases in state supplemental aid for school districts are fully financed by state funds, instead of through increased property tax contributions.

Farm Bureau will work to ensure that this funding mechanism, which is set to expire, is extended into the fiscal year 2017 budget and beyond, Hill said. School districts, which collect more than $2.1 billion of the $5.09 billion of property taxes in Iowa, have long been funded as a partnership between the state and property taxpayers.

In addition, Farm Bureau will work to protect property taxpayers as lawmakers once again address the issue of property tax contributions to fund Iowa’s mental health system, Hill said. The current funding mechanism, which includes a limited and controlled statewide cap, is scheduled to sunset this year.

Farm Bureau will work to ensure these property taxpayer protections are extended into the future. Farm Bureau will also work with legislators to fund both the Ag Land/Family Farm and the Homestead property tax credits at the same levels as last year.

Pictured above: Iowa property taxes by authority in fiscal year 2016. The largest share of property tax in Iowa is collected by school districts, followed by cities, counties and others.