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Opinion

Chucking the political check-off

Tax season is upon us, and Iowans who do not wish to procrastinate are busily preparing their tax returns in order to close out the 2016 tax year. If you are one of those Iowans, you know there are several parts of the Iowa 1040 individual tax form to pay close attention to.

I’d like to draw your attention to the back of the 1040 form, towards the bottom. Step 12 allows for tax filers and their spouses to contribute to the Iowa Election Campaign Fund. By simply checking one or more of the boxes for either of the two major political parties, individuals may designate up to $1.50 per check-off.

Checking any of these boxes does not increase your tax liability or decrease your refund. It simply diverts monies from Iowa’s General Fund to the Iowa Election Campaign Fund to go towards the political parties in Iowa that are recognized with majority status (currently, only the Democratic and Republican parties qualify as such).

Any money not used by the political parties at the end of a general election (would that ever happen?) reverts back to the state’s General Fund. Going back several years, data from the Iowa Department of Revenue shows that roughly $100,000 annually is diverted to the political parties using the income tax check-offs.

It has always mystified me as to why the taxpayers of Iowa would tolerate the Iowa Department of Revenue acting as a campaign collection agent for the two major political parties.

It is my firm belief the government has no business in accumulating finances for any political purpose. Not to mention redirecting taxpayer’s money for such purposes. If anyone wants to send money to either party, they know how to get in contact with them and make that happen. That is why I authored and submitted House File 6.

House File 6 would permanently eliminate the “Political Party check-off” on the Iowa 1040 tax form. This automatically results in a net positive impact on the General Fund starting in fiscal year 2018 and ends the dubious practice of siphoning taxpayer money into the political parties of Iowa.

This past week HF6 cleared the House Ways & Means Committee by a vote of 15-9 making it eligible for consideration on the full House floor. While being a small step in the right direction, this bill is in concert with House Republican efforts to simplify Iowa’s tax code and make common sense corrections to remove partisan politics from where it does not belong.

This Friday I will be holding town hall forums at 8 a.m. at the Coffee Cup Café in Sully and at 9:30 a.m. at Two Rivers Co-op in Otley.

If you are unable to attend one of my weekly forums, please feel free to contact me with your issues or concerns by phone or email. Another way to keep up to date is through my weekly e-newsletter. To subscribe, please send a quick note via email and I’ll put you on the list.

Until next time, God bless.

Contact Rep. Greg Heartsill at
641-218-0185 or
greg.heartsill@leg.iowa.gov

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