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Is Tax Increment Financing a Fiscal Bane or Boon?

Among urban planners, tax increment financing (TIF) is a popular economic development financing tool. Critics, however, claim that TIF is a fiscal bane, reducing property value for affected jurisdictions, especially school districts. TIF regulations in Iowa—on annual base values, returned excess increments, and protected debt service levy—provide the opportunity to test this argument. Using eighteen years of TIF district-level data, this study finds that TIF was most likely a fiscal boon for school districts. Given this finding, the study also provides several implications for TIF use and economic development planners in Iowa and elsewhere.

Nguyen-Hoang, P. Is Tax Increment Financing a Fiscal Bane or Boon?. Iowa City, IA:University of Iowa Public Policy Center.