Milwaukee-based Wisconsin Policy Research Institute (WPRI) recently released a study that found Wisconsin could boost its economy without bankrupting state government by cutting income and property taxes, while broadening its sales tax on consumer goods and services. The study says Wisconsin would "benefit long-term from lower taxes and a different tax mix. The path to prosperity, though, starts with lower income taxes and property taxes and recognition from legislators that the current sales tax structure can and should be broadened." While Gov. Scott Walker said he would review the study, he rejected broadening the state's sales tax the same day WPRI's study urged lawmakers to consider such a move to grow the economy.
By Jodi A. Bain & Cindy Lowder, Senior Managing Consultants, Tucson
Business property owners in Iowa received $127.3 million in tax relief this month, thanks to landmark legislation enacted by the split-control Legislature in 2013, marking the first reduction in business property taxes in more than three decades. The relief was delivered via a five percent rollback on commercial and industrial property tax rates normally taxed at 100 percent of assessed value, and a new tax credit sought by applicants for 70,444 business property units for taxes on the 2013 property assessment that are due and payable this month and next March, according to the state Department of Revenue.
By Sharif Mitchell, Mid-Atlantic Area Leader / Principal, Paradigm Tax Group, NYC
During a hearing last Thursday, a judge ruled that Fulton County will be allowed to collect a 17 percent property tax increase the county commission approved last month. However, Cobb County Superior Court Senior Judge G. Grant Brantley did not make a decision on the underlying issue: whether the hike is legal at all. Six Fulton County state representatives and one former state representative filed the lawsuit in an attempt to stop the Fulton County tax increase from going into effect. The group argued that the tax hike is in violation of the Georgia Constitution due to a newly enacted law (House Bill 604) that went into effect in May and limits Fulton County’s authority to increase the county tax rate prior to January 2015 and requires a super majority vote (five of seven commissioners must vote “yes”) to increase the property tax rate after January 2015.
A candidate in the running to oversee Jefferson County, Colorado's property tax system as its next assessor owes thousands of dollars in delinquent taxes at both the federal and state level, according to county records. According to the Denver Post, documents on file with the Jefferson County Clerk's Office show Ronald Sandstrom, the Republican candidate for assessor, facing Internal Revenue Service liens of more than $67,000 and unsatisfied judgments from the Colorado Department of Revenue of nearly $22,000. It's not clear whether Sandstrom has made any progress in settling his tax bill with the IRS, which accrued from 2007 to 2011, but a records technician with the Jefferson County Combined Courts said on Tuesday that Sandstrom's debts with the state — dating to 2010, 2011 and 2013 — are still listed as "unsatisfied." The delinquency issue was enough to prompt Jefferson County Republican Party Chair E.V. Leyendecker to ask Sandstrom to step aside from the race. Sandstrom has so far refused to do so, Leyendecker said.
By Eddie Krebs, Managing Consultant, Atlanta
A bill to eliminate the school property tax in Pennsylvania has made it out of the Senate Finance Committee. According to the Pittsburgh Business Times, Senate Bill 76 (also known as the Property Tax Independence Act) would replace the lost school funding with an increase of the state sales tax from 6 percent to 7 percent, an increase in the personal income tax from 3.07 percent to 4.34 percent and more sales-taxable items. The bill was first introduced in January 2013 to eliminate what sponsor Sen. David Argall, R-Schuylkill County, said was a "most-hated egregious and archaic tax." The bill was advanced from the Senate Finance Committee by a vote of 6-5. The vote advanced the bill to the Appropriations Committee, where it must pass before being taken up by the whole Senate.
By Randy Burns, Northern California Area Leader / Principal, San Francisco
Despite Michigan voters overwhelmingly approving Proposal 1 last month, which phases out the business personal property tax, business lobbyists are pushing for further business tax reform. While Prop 1 was a major accomplishment for the state, many people don't realize that large non-manufacturing companies, including major retailers such as Meijer Inc., big legal and accounting firms and utilities, were not covered by Proposal 1 and will continue paying the tax on their office equipment. That will generate roughly $400 million a year for local governments, according to an estimate from the state House Fiscal Agency. The new legislation opens the door to further reform, as those business not included in Prop 1 will eventually want relief from the tax as well.
Pittsburgh's board of the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) voted through six agenda items at its September board meeting that are expected to help launch $500 million in new development on the former Civic Arena site and help spur the revitalization of the Hill District area. According to the Pittsburgh Business Journal, in the wake of Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto and the Pittsburgh Penguins' recent announcement of a new agreement for the arena site, the URA board voted to extend the option agreement for the team’s development rights on the property and to begin the process of establishing a tax increment financing district that would include the arena site as well as the entire Hill District territory. The “Greater Hill District TIF” is expected to encompass 1,178 acres of land and would be the largest TIF district the city ever implemented.
By Jerry Heaton, Senior Managing Consultant/Principal, Dallas
Hotel development in Cleveland is booming, thanks in part to the city winning the bid for the 2016 RNC, a new convention center and a surging health care sector, according to Hotel News Now. Cleveland is riding high as it enjoys an infusion of more than $17 billion in capital developments, including nearly $3 billion dedicated to tourism and more than 2,000 new hotel rooms between 2013 and 2016. According to Positively Cleveland, the number of business and leisure visitors to the region increased by 4% in 2013 to 16.2 million, generating an economic impact of $7.4 billion.
On Monday, the Orlando City Council gave preliminary approval to a 17.7 percent property tax increase, which would raise the rate by $1, to $6.65 per $1,000 of taxable value. The council says the raise is necessary because revenue collections aren't keeping pace with City Hall's expenses, and Orlando leaders blame property tax reforms adopted by the Legislature for creating a "structural imbalance" in the city budget. City leaders argue that tax caps imposed by the state limit how much tax assessments can increase, and thus limit the ability to grow revenues despite rising property values.
After a 5-state battle for Telsa Motors' $5 billion battery gigafactory, Nevada came out as the victor. While the five million square foot complex is expected to generate 6,500 high-paying jobs, which officials say will change the face of Northern Nevada commerce, it didn't come without a steep cost. Telsa will receive a $1.25 billion tax incentive package that will span over 20 years, a figure that is more than double the $500 million package CEO Elon Musk said would be required to draw the company.
California's recently passed Assembly Bill 1999, authored by Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins (D-San Diego), would offer a a 20% state tax credit to developers restoring structures listed on the National Register of Historic Places or the California Register of Historical Resources. AB 1999 was designed to advance the preservation and renovation of historic buildings and stimulate local economies and awaits approval from Governor Jerry Brown.
By Michael Clary, Senior Managing Consultant, Detroit
The number of properties receiving a tax abatement or having a portion of their property tax revenue redirected to another purpose has exploded in Franklin County, Ohio over the past 15 years, an analysis by The Columbus Dispatch has found. The total amount of property value in an abatement or tax-increment-financing zone has gone from about $1.4 billion in 1999 to about $6.7 billion today, records show. Almost $2 billion was abated through Community Reinvestment Area abatements (CRAs), or CRAs, which can erase the owner’s tax bill on new construction for up to 15 years.
As the multifamily sector has skyrocketed from the recession, the niche self-storage industry is attracting all types of new investors looking for safe returns. According to the National Real Estate Investor, both occupancy and rents continue to rise at self-storage properties, particularly as construction is only meeting a fraction of demand. And as self-storage cash flows rise, competition for assets has compressed cap rates for portfolios, the current bread-and-butter for the top REITs. Occupancy has increased to the low 90s percent mark at all four of the major industry trusts—Public Storage, Extra Space Storage Inc., CubeSmart and Sovran Self Storage—according to a second quarter report by Chicago-based analyst firm MJ Partners. Revenue increases at the four trusts ranged from 5.3 percent to 8.6 percent for the quarter, according to the report, and net operating income increased from 6.9 percent to 10 percent. Accordingly, national asking rental rates in the first half of 2014 increased 1.1 percent from the same period last year.