Because the Township does not have an earnings tax, property taxes fuel its economy. To maintain the public infrastructure, the Township utilizes what’s known as Tax Increment Financing, or TIF to recapture the taxes on the change in value after property is developed and funnels those monies into public improvement projects. The $8.5 million dollar widening of Montgomery Road was paid for with TIF dollars!
What is TIF?
Tax increment financing (TIF) uses the increased property taxes that a new real estate development generates to finance costs of the development. TIF is used for two basic purposes:
- To induce or cause a development or redevelopment that otherwise would not occur—e.g., to convince a developer to build an office building, retail, industrial, or housing development that otherwise would not be constructed. To do so, the increased property taxes are used to pay for costs (e.g., land acquisition or site preparation) that the developer would normally pay.
- To finance public infrastructure (streets, sewer, water, or parking facilities) that are related to the development. In some cases, the developer would be required to pay for this infrastructure through special assessments or other charges. In other cases, all taxpayers would pay through general city taxes.
How does TIF work?
When a new TIF district is created, the county auditor certifies (1) the current net tax capacity (i.e., property tax base) of the TIF district and (2) the local property tax rates. As the net tax capacity of the district increases, the property taxes (i.e., the “tax increment”) paid by this increase in value is dedicated and paid to the development authority. The tax increment is limited to the tax derived from the certified tax rate. Increases in value that generate increment may be caused by construction of the development or by general inflation in property values. The authority uses the increment to pay qualifying costs (e.g., land acquisition, site preparation, and public infrastructure) that it has incurred for the TIF project.
How is TIF used to pay upfront development costs?
There is a mismatch between when most TIF costs must be paid—at beginning of a development—and when increments are received—after the development is built and begins paying higher property taxes. Three basic financing techniques are used to finance these upfront costs:
- Bonds. The authority or municipality (city or county) may issue its bonds to pay these upfront costs and use increment to pay the bonds back. Often, extra bonds are issued to pay interest on the bonds (“capitalizing” interest) until increments begin to be received.
- Interfund loans. In some cases, the authority may advance money from its own funds (e.g., a development fund or sewer and water fund) and use the increments to reimburse the fund.
- Pay-as-you-go financing. The developer may pay the costs with its own funds. The increments, then, are used to reimburse the developer for these costs. This type of developer financing is often called “pay-as-you-go” or “pay-go” financing