Tax increment financing (TIF) is a mechanism authorized by Iowa law allowing local governments, primarily cities, to capture the taxes collected on property valuation growth in a specified district. The incremental taxes are intended to be used for one or more of the following: bond payments on borrowing required to prepare the district for development; rebates on taxes to developers meeting specific, albeit locally determined, criteria; direct spending by the local government to develop an area; or outright tax refunds to qualifying developments. The use of TIF authority among Iowa’s cities is extremely popular. In fiscal 1991, there were 746 different TIF districts or projects in Iowa. By fiscal 1997 that number had increased to 1,014, and by fiscal 2006, it had increased to 2,358, a 133 percent increase in a nine year period. More cities are using TIF authority, there are many more TIF projects than there were a decade ago, and the amount of statewide property taxable valuation that is sequestered within TIF districts and therefore not available to the general funds of all local governments has also grown strongly over the years.
Swenson, Dave and Eathington, Liesl, "Tax Increment Financing Growth in Iowa" (2006). Economics Technical Reports and White Papers. 25.