Cutting sales tax would help all Iowans

Sami Scheetz represents Iowa House district 78, covering part of Cedar Rapids.

As a State Representative, my job is to serve the needs of all Iowans and to ensure that our state’s tax policies benefit everyone—not just the wealthy. That’s why I’ve proposed legislation with my fellow Democrats to reduce the state sales tax by one cent.

Higher sales taxes largely impact lower-income families and Iowans on fixed incomes. When there’s less money to go around, tough decisions have to be made: do you purchase school supplies for your kids or personal hygiene care for yourself? That kind of pressure on Iowa families is unsustainable, and it’s wrong. Unfortunately, in Governor Kim Reynolds’ Iowa, it’s by design.

Recent changes to Iowa’s tax policy have primarily favored wealthy Iowans who can afford lobbyists to spend time at the state capitol in Des Moines. Iowa’s income tax was already set to drop below 4 percent by 2026, but, for the wealthiest Iowans and corporations, it just wasn’t fast enough. You can probably guess what happened: Reynolds just signed a new law to speed up those cuts for the wealthiest Iowans, dropping them to 3.8 percent by next year and dipping into Iowa’s taxpayer relief fund to make up the revenue.

Instead of forcing all of us to put money into the pockets of well-connected rich people in Des Moines, Iowa Democrats’ proposal to cut the sales tax by one cent will benefit every Iowan. It’s pretty simple: if you only have a dollar, 7 cents is a bigger chunk of your overall budget than it is for the person who has a hundred dollars. By making each dollar stretch a little further, working and middle-class Iowans and people on fixed incomes will spend a smaller portion of their limited income on everyday goods.

The tax policy Reynolds and GOP lawmakers enacted is estimated to reduce state revenues by more than $1 billion over the first three years. The resulting shortfall will require cuts to basic services for Iowans who rely on them, or will require increased sales and property taxes to make up the difference.

Iowa Republicans claim their tax cuts are transformative and beneficial to all Iowans, but the reality is that many will be left behind as they continue to struggle with rising costs of living. Our proposed sales tax reduction helps everyone. The proposal is simple: it’s a tax cut for 100 percent of Iowans—especially those of us who can’t afford a lobbyist in Des Moines.

I’m a proud Democrat, but I was sent to Des Moines to serve all of the residents of my district. All over our state, I meet Iowans who are Republicans, Democrats, and independents—each of whom are committed to the principles of basic fairness. They want elected officials who put people over politics.

That’s why Democrats are fighting for policies that promote economic fairness, human decency, and a government that is as good as its people. We’ll continue to show up everywhere and meet folks where they are – and we’ll work with anyone to build a more prosperous Iowa.

About the Author(s)

Sami Scheetz

  • Challenging economic times call for tax relief. Average gas price was $2.40 when Senile Joe took the oath of office.

    Tax relief is needed especially for lower- and middle-class Iowans. Despite “Senile Joe’s” claims, families are struggling with rising groceries and gas prices:

  • I do understand why this is being proposed...

    However, speaking as a conservation-minded Democrat, it would have been really nice to see, in this essay, some kind of short mention of some proposed alternative for putting money into Iowa’s Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund.  Iowa voters created the Trust Fund fourteen years ago.  It was supposed to be funded via the next state sales tax increase.  Instead, it has never gotten a single penny.

    Meanwhile, some other states have state trusts for natural resources that have actual funding in them. (Missouri is one example.)  And Iowa’s financial support for natural resources remains low compared to many if not most other states. 

    Of course political miracles cannot be expected in Iowa these days.  But some of us still hope that prospects for better Iowa natural resource funding (which should NOT mean just handing public money to farmers and landowners so they’ll finally do the water-protecting conservation that they should be doing anyway) will not die altogether.

  • About time!

    I’m glad to see someone change the conversation on Iowa taxes. The Republican ritual of cutting income taxes when the state is flush, then raising sales taxes again when the surplus disappears has been running my whole life.

  • Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund

    Prairie Fan raises a valid point. Voters overwhelmingly approved the constitutional amendment for the trust fund. But a sales tax is regressive. Perhaps the solution is to find other ways to reduce the tax burden on lower income Iowans and still raise the sales tax to fund the trust fund. Ideally, the legislature would adopt a fair and equitable income tax from which funding for natural resources and outdoor recreation could be provided.