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As Tax Increment Financing Districts Sunset in Iowa City, Questions Abound

Iowa state law requires tax increment financing to sunset after 20 years. Cedar Rapids is in the process of evaluating some of its TIF districts after they expired this summer.
October 3, 2018, 7am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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B.A. Morelli has produced a couple of tax increment financing-related articles as the city of Cedar Rapids grapples with the consequences of its retiring TIF program.

Since the first wave of special taxing districts in the city expired in June, the Linn County Auditor's Office has discovered $2.7 million in overpayments to the city of Cedar Rapids, reports Morelli. "The accounts date back several years in six urban renewal areas in which TIF — tax increment financing — districts are established, some of which expired June 30." Despite those issues, the city and the county have indicated that they expect to clear up the discrepancy by the end of the year.

The city's TIF districts are expiring because of a state law that limits the duration of TIFs to 20 years. As reported in a separate article, also by Morelli, the state of Iowa leads the nation in the use of TIF.

According to the "Improving Tax Increment Financing for Economic Development" report by University of Illinois Chicago professor David Merriman for the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, Iowa has 3,340 TIF districts. That's more than twice the number of the next most prolific TIF state, Minnesota.

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Published on Sunday, September 30, 2018 in Cedar Rapids Gazette
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