Senate Republicans are proposing a $750 income tax credit to “every average Iowa family” as a way to return the state’s $1 billion budget surplus to taxpayers.
“That’s real money. That’s money that they can put to use right away in improving the lives of their families,” Senate Minority Leader Bill Dix, R-Shell Rock, said Thursday.
Under his proposal, which is the same as House File 1, the credit would not be pro-rated based on the amount of income tax a family paid.
“We believe everyone is contributing and we should send the money back to taxpayers in that fashion,” Dix said at the weekly GOP leadership news conference. “This is going to average families all across Iowa, hardworking families who will make good use of the money.”
Dix estimated there may be as much as $800 million available to fund the tax credit. However, that’s just one way to use those funds, said Senate Ways and Means Committee Chairman Joe Bolkcom, D-Iowa City.
“Another would be to do some strategic investments,” he said. “We’re not going to have a very prosperous state if we let all our infrastructure go to pot.”
Gov. Terry Branstad has suggested some of the surplus could be used to fund his education reform and property tax relief proposals. Others have suggested investments in redesigning mental health services or fixing Iowa roads.
Democrats are interested in “providing a tax cut to people who need it, especially people who are making less than $50,000 a year,” Bolkcom said.
He’d like to raise the filing threshold for Iowa income taxpayers to match higher federal thresholds. For Iowans younger than 65, the threshold is $9,000 for an individual and $13,500 for a couple. For older Iowans, the thresholds are $24,000 for an individual and $32,000 for a couple.
“We need to pay attention to Iowa low-wage workers and middle-class workers,” Bolkcom said. “They ought to be the beneficiaries of any income tax cut we consider.”
Tax policy over the past decade has provided larger benefits to the wealthiest Iowans than those low-wage and middle-class families, he said.
While Bolkcom would prefer a progressive approach to income tax relief, the GOP approach, because it is not pro-rated, would be a larger benefit to low-income taxpayers than high-income earners.
HF 1 is currently under consideration by a subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee.
On other topics, leaders said: