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Pleasant Surprises

Published: Tuesday, April 22, 2014 11:11 a.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, April 22, 2014 4:27 p.m. CDT

Every now and then it is nice to get a surprise.  Let me clarify that -- it is nice to receive a pleasant surprise.  For instance, a surprise party for a birthday, anniversary, or retirement is always welcome.  Every once in a while, the political process contains some pleasant surprises.  Specifically, I am referring to a couple of bills that were recently rolled into one and have a good chance of being considered in the closing moments of the Iowa Legislature.

During this year’s session, Representative Dawn Pettengill (R-Mt. Auburn) introduced House File 2430 which, if enacted, would give Iowans an opportunity to directly contribute to our state’s senior nutrition and food bank programs via a “check-off” on the Iowa 1040 Individual Income Tax Form.  To be more specific, 50% of the proceeds from this check-off would go to Senior Dining/Meals on Wheels programs; 40% would go to Iowa Food Banks; and 10% would go to grants for innovative individuals who are looking for ways to feed those who are hungry. 

For those who have just recently filed their income taxes, you may recall that space is a precious commodity on the Iowa 1040 tax form.  While it may be difficult finding someone who might oppose the aforementioned bill, there is some difficulty in finding enough room to place the new check-off should it become law.  That’s where House File 2431 comes in.

House File 2431 is a bill that I introduced also during this year’s session.  This bill would permanently eliminate the “Political Party check-off” on the Iowa 1040 tax form, thus making room for the “Senior Nutrition/Food Bank check-off”.

As you may know, there is a spot on the back of the Iowa 1040 tax form that allows you to contribute $1.50 to the political parties in Iowa that are recognized with majority status (i.e. Democrats and Republicans).  It has always mystified me as to why the taxpayers of Iowa would tolerate the Iowa Department of Revenue acting as campaign collection agents for the two major political parties.  Are both parties that desperate for campaign cash that they need the government’s assistance in collecting money, albeit $1.50 at a time?!

Anyway, it is my firm belief that the government has no business in accumulating a fund for any political purpose.  If you want to send money to either party, you know how to get in contact with them and make that happen.  That is why I authored and submitted House File 2431.

Here’s where a little common sense unexpectedly works its way into the political process.  House File 2430 addresses a vital need in our state by allowing Iowans to give through a check-off on their 1040 tax form, if only there was room.  House File 2431 provides the room by eliminating a ridiculously unnecessary check-off that should have never been afforded the space in the first place.

Just last week, the House Ways & Means committee took both bills and rolled them into one, House File 2471.  While there are a few differences from the original bills (i.e. the changes are on a one-year trial basis as opposed to permanent), this is a good first step that can be continued by future action in the legislature.  My hope is that my colleagues will also recognize the importance and common sense of this legislation and pass it through both chambers before this year’s session is adjourned.

Until next time, God bless!

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