Business owners continue to pressure lawmakers for relief from what they view as excessive commercial and industrial property taxes, but all indications are Republicans and Democrats are too far apart to come up with any real solutions this year.
Although the issue is sure to discussed during the legislative session that begins Monday, the likely outcome is more study.
A legislative committee made up of lawmakers, local government officials, economic development professionals and a business executive met three times this fall and will hold more meetings after the Legislature adjourns.
The committee's charge is to come up with comprehensive recommendations for restructuring property taxes in Iowa by January 2009, said Rep. Phil Wise, D-Keokuk, co-chairman of the committee.
The issue has been a priority of business groups for years.
The Iowa Chamber Alliance, which represents 16 chambers of commerce and economic development organizations, said commercial property tax rates in the state's urban areas are the fifth highest in the nation and rural commercial rates are among the top 10 highest. Industrial property tax rates in cities and rural areas rank 15th in the nation, the group said.
"Delaying reforms to Iowa's property tax system is intensifying the tax burden on commercial and industrial payers," the group said in a brochure outlining its 2008 legislative agenda.
The Iowa Association of Business and Industry, a 1,300-member trade group, in its 2008 legislative policy handbook, calls for developing a property tax system that is equitable to all classes of property.
"The system should provide adequate safeguards to prohibit spikes in rates and assessment, and should not rely on new taxes and fees," the group said.