Corporate tax cuts leave many dissatisfied

Hilary Bassett

In the race for governor, Terry Branstad ran on a platform that included cutting corporate taxes and, after entering office, that goal hasn’t changed.

Within the current system, the highest rate a business can be taxed is 12 percent. Branstad wants to cut this to an even 6 percent across the board for all companies in Iowa.

Along with this cut, Branstad also aims to decrease commercial property taxes by 40 percent. Branstad toured 99 counties and, after meeting with local business leaders, learned that property taxes created a major disadvantage. Commercial property taxes are presently taxed at 100 percent of their value.

“Right now, the same structure in Des Moines, is paying a higher commercial property tax rate than a similar one in Manhattan, N.Y.,” said Tim Albrecht, communications director for Branstad. “That’s just a deterrence to growth and makes us uncompetitive.”

Branstad has set lofty goals for his plan, including the creation of 200,000 jobs and a 25 percent income increase for families during a five-year period.

“This will allow businesses on our main streets to free up the capital they need to reinvest in jobs,” Albrecht said.

But this proposal has caused an uproar across Iowa, leaving many wondering who will be paying for the lost revenue.

Albrecht said these cuts will be offset by the increase in the casino gaming tax to the 36 percent it had been previously set to.

People have also begun to question whether Branstad’s goals are even possible.

“It’s not going to happen,” said David Swenson, associate scientist of economics. “We have no experience in the past of producing those kinds of job gains, and everything we know about this economy says it’s not going to happen.”

Other opponents of this plan argue that these cuts won’t have much of an impact on small businesses and instead put all the attention on the larger companies.

“Branstad’s corporate tax proposal does nothing for small business,” said Sen. Herman Quirmbach, D-Ames. “It only helps the big guys, and the prospects of it creating very many jobs are quite unconvincing.”

How this will affect students looking at applying for jobs or just looking at two more years of college is still unknown, but many like to speculate.

Proponents have claimed these tax breaks will create a great advantage for students.

“I believe that Iowa’s employers will be free and have more flexibility to begin hiring more of our college graduates and create the 200,000 jobs that Gov. Branstad has proposed,” Albrecht said.

But, with the proposal for a decrease in the casino gaming tax facing an unenthusiastic response, challengers have stated that students and taxpayers will be the only ones paying for the potential loss of revenue as more cuts are made in places such as education.

“If you lower the taxes on the commercial, than you either raise taxes on everyone else or the people who use that money have to get by with less, and so that’s going to impact schools, cities and counties,” Swenson said. “You’re telling them that in the name of this reform, you have to get by with less money when they’re already getting by with less money.”