Polk County Local Option Sales & Services Tax (LOSST)

The Local Option Sales and Services Tax (LOSST) is often used as a way to raise funds for specific local or area projects. The LOSST was recently approved in the Dallas County which is bringing the issue up for vote in Polk County.

The Iowa sales tax rate is 6% statewide. Polk County voters have the opportunity to approve a 1% LOSST, which would result in a 7% sales tax rate.

The 1% LOSST is approved by voters at the city or county level and is only collected on items that are currently subject to sales tax. This map shows the counties where voters have approved the LOSST. More than 90% of Iowa has LOSST and every year visitors to Polk County would generate additional LOSST revenue for Elkhart.

If approved, 50% of the LOSST revenue would support property tax relief. Each year the City will report how property tax relief was achieved. The other 50% would be used for a variety of capital improvement projects–including street improvements, park and trail improvements, storm water improvements, and related debt retirement.

Important Dates

March 6 – Polk County LOSST election voting is open from 7:00 AM to 8:00 PM. The voting location for Elkhart residents is the Elkhart Veterans Memorial Community Center

Frequent Asked Questions

1. Why is the Local Option Sales Tax appearing on the ballot?

With the passing of LOSST in Dallas County in November 2017, numerous cities in Polk County have supported placing the LOSST measure on the Polk County ballot. All together those cities represent more than 50 percent of Polk County’s population and this was enough to trigger a local-option sales tax election by Iowa law.

2. What language will appear on the ballot?

A sample ballot can be found here

Summary: To authorize imposition of a local sales and services tax in the City of Elkhart at the rate
of one percent (1%) to be effective July 1, 2018.

Revenues from the sales and services tax shall be allocated as follows:

For the City of Elkhart:

Fifty percent (50%) of said local options sales and services tax to be used for property tax relief.
The specific purpose for which the revenue shall otherwise be expended is:

1. Fifty percent (50%) of such revenues for the city quality of life improvement purposes, including but not
limited to recreational/sports complexes, community centers, trails, parks, arts, cultural amenities, historic
preservation, and for other public uses the City deems necessary and appropriate.

3. Are there any other questions on this March ballot?


4. Does this have to pass in every city or just county-wide?

The contiguous cities of the Polk County vote together as a block and must approve it together for it to be implemented in the Polk County portions of these cities. Throughout the rest of Polk County, non-contiguous cities vote individually as well as unincorporated Polk County. The contiguous cities include Urbandale, Altoona, Johnston, Grimes, Clive, Windsor Heights, West Des Moines, Des Moines, and Pleasant Hill.

This means, for example, that the contiguous cities could approve the Local Option Sales Tax, but the rest of Polk County could not approve it and the revenue would be collected and distributed only in those contiguous cities. What this means for Elkhart, is that if the contiguous cities approve Local Option Sales Tax and Elkhart fails to, residents will pay 7% sales tax in those communities but Elkhart will not receive a portion of revenues collected.

5. Who can participate in the election?

Any eligible voter in the Polk County may participate on or before March 6th.

6. When is the election and where do I vote?

Election Day Tuesday, March 6th. Polls are open from 7:00am to 8:00pm. Visit https://sos.iowa.gov/elections/voterreg/pollingplace/search.aspx for more information.

7. Can I vote at home in this election or at a satellite location?

At this time, satellite locations have not been announced. Please reference voter information at https://sos.iowa.gov/elections/voterreg/pollingplace/search.aspx for information about voting.

8. Does it require support of greater than 50% to pass?

Yes, for Elkhart, the referendum requires support of 50% plus one vote of the votes cast by the registered voters in Elkhart.

9. Will this vote impact my property taxes?

This vote will not increase your property taxes, but would provide property tax relief as stated in the ballot language.

10. Who pays the additional sales tax?

The Local Option Sales Tax is paid based on point of delivery retail sales in Polk County. That means a resident of Polk County, or any visitor from outside the area, would pay this tax at retail establishments in Polk County. Examples include purchases (excluding vehicles), services such as electrical or plumbing work, and delivery of goods such as furniture.

11. Do any other communities in Iowa have a Local Option Sales Tax?

Yes, according to the Iowa Department of Revenue 1,277 out of 1,373 (93 percent) communities in Iowa have a Local Option Sales Tax. This means Polk County residents are already paying Local Option Sales Tax in many communities that they visit across the state.

12. Has this issue been on the ballot before in Polk County?

Yes, the last time a Local Option Sales Tax vote was held in Polk County was in 2007.

13. Will the Local Option Sales Tax increase only be paid by Polk County residents?

No, any visitor to Polk County retail and service businesses that charge sales tax would also be charged the 1% Local Option Sales Tax if approved. Currently, Elkhart residents pay a Local Option Sales Tax when visiting many other Iowa cities.

14. If approved, when would the Local Option Sales Tax be implemented?

If approved, the Local Option Sales Tax would become effective starting July 1, 2018.