Branstad says he’s “realistic” — abandoning idea of pushing for income tax changes in 2014

Earlier this month Governor Terry Branstad was considering a plan to let Iowans keep filing their personal income taxes under the current system, or opt for a flatter, simpler system with fewer deductions. Branstad’s now abandoning the idea.

Iowa Beginning Farmer Tax Credit Calculator

I created a couple worksheets in Google Docs to help calculate a comparison of the Iowa Beginning Farmer Tax Credit on a crop share basis and a cash rent basis. I wanted to share this worksheet to help others evaluate their options and make better decisions.

The main conclusion I’m seeing is that the amount of credit per acre is significantly higher with a crop share agreement than a cash rent agreement. A 50/50 crop share with a 163 yield and corn priced at $4.39 can generate about $50/acre in credit. However, cash rent of $300/acre will only generate a credit of $15/acre. Even cash rent at $500/acre will only yield a $25/acre credit.

Click Here for the worksheet (Go to File > Download As > .xlsx if you want to edit it in Microsoft Excel)

Or use the link below if you want to access it from the Google Docs Template gallery. This template link doesn’t seem to be working right in Internet Explorer. Just use the link above if you are having issues viewing this link in Internet Explorer.

Iowa tax credit awards decline 7% in FY13, revenue department says

Certain tax credits, such as the High Quality Jobs program and Enterprise Zone program, fall under caps set by state lawmakers. Under these caps, which include some of the state’s most expensive tax credit programs, the Iowa Economic …

Iowa tax policy activity

Cedar Rapids, City Hall, photographed by User:...

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The Des Moines Register has a nice summary on the activity that the state government has taken, will likely examine, and also notable items that are pretty much dead in the water.

A few items that have cleared the hurdle into approved territory are the Taxpayers First Act that reduces funding for university sabbaticals and a few other government spending items and state tax exemption for active duty military pay. It is also now illegal to impersonate a decorated military veteran in Iowa and certain state agencies and pension funds are now prohibited from investing in companies that do business in Iran in an effort to reduce support for terrorism. I’m glad to see some spending cuts rather than just grasping at revenue straws and some recognition of our military personnel.

A couple items that are likely to see activity are restrictions on the ability of animal rights activists to take undercover videos on producer premises and the transformation of the Economic Development office into a public/private partnership. I think both of these moves should be positives for Iowa businesses as the activists are usually from out of state groups that have no vested interest in Iowa and forming a public/private partnership in Economic development should bring some more perspective to the table and perhaps make the agency more nimble.

Several items have been shot down, some making pretty good sense, others may come back to life under further review. Same-sex marriage has been put to rest and Cedar Rapids flood aid has been taken off the table after the citizens of Cedar Rapids refused to pick up their part of the tab.

The state has refused to legalize in-state internet poker gaming, but this is set to be reviewed further by the state gaming commission. It seems to me that this may come back into consideration as a revenue generator since the tax hike on brick and mortar gross gambling revenues (from 24% to 36%) was also shot down. Can you imagine owning a franchise with royalties at 24% of gross revenues (and then having the audacity to think it’s not enough)?

Education policy changes regarding private school accreditation and hours instead of days requirements for education were also rejected. We still won’t need a valid identification to vote (wonder who this helps…) and there is still no limit on “Red Light Camera” fines aka the city pension re-balancing fund.

I also wanted to point out a little typo egregious error in the comment left by MercedesSLK (obviously a low income taxpayer) who asserted that commercial property tax relief was unnecessary because Iowa “ranks near the top of states with a favorable business climate” as the Tax Foundation has ranked Iowa as 45 out of 50 for business climate (yeah, that’s the bottom 5).

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Iowa Housing Enterprise Zone Credits

I have recently become aware of the secondary market in Iowa Housing Enterprise Zone Credits that could save taxpayers with heavy Iowa tax bills lots of money.  It appears that they are legally transferable; however, as with any good thing from the government, there are some hoops to jump through.  Here I have listed the requirements as listed in the law in italics along with my plain English interpretation following.

  1. The department of economic development shall notify the department of revenue of the tax credit certificates which have been approved for transfer. The left hand needs to talk to the right hand before you can get your tax credits.  Apparently the government needs to write “inter-agency communication” into the law for anyone in those agencies to actually do it.
  2. Within ninety days of transfer, the transferee must submit the transferred tax credit certificate to the department of revenue along with a statement containing the transferee’s name, tax identification number, and address, and the denomination that each replacement tax credit certificate is to carry and any other information required by the department of revenue. The guy selling you tax credits has 90 days to tell the government that he sold them to you, and he needs a chunk of your personal information to disclose to them as well.  He also has to tell the government what the size of your credit should be, so they can issue a new certificate to you.
  3. Within thirty days of receiving the transferred tax credit certificate and the transferee’s statement, the department of revenue shall issue one or more replacement tax credit certificates to the transferee. Each replacement certificate must contain the information required to receive the original certificate and must have the same expiration date that appeared in the transferred tax credit certificate. After the government receives your information from the guy selling you credits, they have 30 days to issue a new certificate to you.  This makes 120 days in potential delay getting your tax credits.
  4. Tax credit certificate amounts of less than the minimum amount established by rule of the department of economic development shall not be transferable. Just like buying bonds, they’re not going to sell you a $20 Enterprise Zone Credit.  Have real money to play with or don’t ask to get in the game.
  5. A tax credit shall not be claimed by a transferee until a replacement tax credit certificate identifying the transferee as the proper holder has been issued. You can’t claim the tax credit until you receive the new certificate from the government!
  6. The transferee may use the amount of the tax credit transferred against taxes imposed (income, sales, or insurance company tax) for any tax year the original transferor could have claimed the tax credit. Most people will be looking to offset income tax, but other taxes can be offset as well.  These credits carry forward, but they expire.  Keep the expiration date in mind when deciding how much these credits are worth to you.  This expiration is a large factor in the discounts observed in the secondary market.
  7. Any consideration received for the transfer of the tax credit shall not be included as income. The guy selling you tax credits does not have to claim the money you paid him as income.
  8. Any consideration paid for the transfer of the tax credit shall not be deducted from income. The amount of money you paid for tax credits is not a deductible expense to you (keep in mind this is with regard to Iowa state income taxes).

So it does appear that these credits are legally transferable, but make sure to dot your I’s and cross your T’s so that you actually receive your tax credits after you hand over the cash.  Also be careful to deal with someone that is reputable as there is a significant amount of hoop jumping that needs to be done by the seller for you to get your credits.

With the possibility of these credits selling at significant discounts on the secondary market, this could represent some tax savings for individuals who regularly run a hefty Iowa state tax bill.

For guidance on how to navigate these tax credits, contact the department of economic development.

Source: Housing Enterprise Zone Law (Almost all of this is buried in the middle of paragraph 8 for those that actually take a look at it)