Under the Golden Dome, Too – January 2

Upmeyer UTGD

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and a happy New Year.  This certainly is a special time of year.  I hope you were able to spend some time relaxing, reflecting, and making joyful memories with family and friends.  Thanks for the many warm holiday wishes and season’s greetings you’ve sent our way.  I’ve enjoyed seeing photos of growing families and reading about your many accomplishments in 2014.  I look forward to finding out what’s in store for you in 2015!

With the start of a new year, so comes a new tax season.  As you begin to think about preparing your 2014 taxes, there are many tax incentives you should be aware of this year.

You may recall that upon coming into the Majority in 2011, we created the Taxpayers Trust Fund- a fund intended to capture any overpayment of taxpayer dollars and send that money back to you, its rightful owners.  In 2013, the Taxpayer Trust Fund was fully established when we set up a permanent mechanism that would go into effect any time the state collects more than is needed to meet Iowans’ priorities, and return the over-collection to you.  During this year’s tax season, it is estimated approximately $35.5 million will be returned to Iowa’s hardworking taxpayers.

In terms of planning for the future, Iowa offers a unique college savings plan.  Iowa’s College Savings Plan allows anyone- parents, grandparents, even family friends- to contribute to a child’s 529 savings account.  This tax season, Iowa taxpayers can deduct up to $3163 in contributions per beneficiary account.  For more information, visit www.iowacollegesavings.com.

Beginning in 2015, Iowans receiving Social Security will no longer be taxed on Social Security benefits.  For eight years, the state has gradually been phasing out its tax on Social Security income.  I was happy to support this legislation in 2006 and am glad the tax has finally been fully eliminated.

Last session, in an effort to reduce some of the costs associated with adopting a child, we created a $2500 tax credit for qualified adoption expenses paid or incurred in connection with the adoption of a child.  This tax credit will also go into effect in 2015.

There are also many opportunities to make a tax-deductible donation to a non-profit or charitable organization of your choice.  Endow Iowa is one way to help fund a local non-profit project and impact your bottom line.  Through the Endow Iowa program, donors are eligible to receive 25% tax credits for donations to qualified community foundations.  By building long-term permanent endowments for community foundations, this program has benefited many non-profit organizations across the state since its creation in 2003.  For more information about qualified community foundations, visit www.iowacommunityfoundations.org.

These are just a few of the tax incentives you may see while filing your 2014 taxes.  While many of us would prefer we had a simpler tax code, for now, these are some of the measures available to help.  Over the past several years, we have introduced many versions of legislation to simplify the tax code, but those efforts have stalled in the Senate.  This is an issue we will continue to work on as we move forward.  If you have questions about filing your 2014 taxes, or for more information about existing tax credits you may qualify for, visit www.tax.iowa.gov.

With the wind-down of the holiday season, the 2015 legislative session will soon begin.  The 86th General Assembly will convene on Monday, January 12.  The first day of each General Assembly is always a special time as family members, friends, and volunteers join us to watch the men and women they worked so hard to help elect, be sworn in as members of the Iowa House of Representatives.  If you’re not able to attend on January 12 but are interested in the events, you can view the ceremony in real time at www.legis.iowa.gov.  In fact, floor action can be viewed anytime throughout the legislative session at this website.

As we embark on another new year, I would like to take this opportunity to wish you a very happy and prosperous 2015.  May this be a successful and joy-filled year for you and yours.

As always, please feel free to contact me anytime with the issues you care about at linda.upmeyer@legis.iowa.gov or 515-281-4618.

Upmeyer Sig