Application forms are now available for commercial property owners in Iowa to apply for the new Business Property Tax Credit, which is part of a sweeping property tax reform law signed by Gov. Terry Branstad in June.


The Legislature appropriated $50 million to be distributed in the first year in tax credits as one of the provisions of Senate File 295. The credits will apply to certain commercial, industrial and railroad properties, but not to residential or agriculturally classified property. One credit is available for each qualified property unit.


A property unit consists of contiguous parcels of the same classification that are owned by the same person and operated by that person for a common use and purpose.


The Iowa Department of Revenue has created a page on its website devoted exclusively to 2013 commercial property tax reform. On this Web page, taxpayers can access and print a copy of the Business Property Tax Credit application form and view answers to questions that have been received. The tax credit applications must be received by the county or city assessor by Jan. 15, 2014.


The actual amount of credit each property unit will receive depends in part upon the total value of all property units and the average consolidated rates in each unit. The Legislative Services Agency has estimated that the maximum first-year credit amount for property owners receiving credits will be approximately $523.


In addition to the property tax credits, which will reach $125 million by 2015, the tax reform legislation provides a 10 percent rollback over two years on commercial and industrial property taxes. It provides for a 100 percent backfill to local governments for loss of revenue on the rollback. The act also limits assessment growth to 3 percent on agricultural and residential properties.  


The department said in a release that it's in the final stages of rule development for the law, but cautioned that rules cannot possibly address every scenario that might be encountered in administering the credit.


"We encourage people to visit our website and view the Q and As," said Julie Roisen, the department's Property Tax Division administrator. "If their questions aren't already answered there, they can submit them to us online. We will add the new Q and As to the body of information we are accumulating." The department updates the site weekly.