Economic development incentives have become a national punching bag for media and watchdog groups who think government gets too involved in development deals. The face on that punching bag as of late is TIF (Tax Increment Financing), which is a tool that uses a project’s taxes to help pay for roads, sidewalks and other site costs. Critics argue this money should go into the same pot as other taxpayer dollars, not to pay for private development.
This debate has ramped up in Indiana, where a public university recently released a study on TIF. Critics have cherry-picked and sound-bited the study’s most dire conclusions in an attempt to turn TIF into a four-letter word. This effort is not just misleading, it’s dangerous. No, TIF isn’t right for every situation, but many transformative projects can’t happen without it.
In an effort to provide some balance to this discussion, we’ve appeared in multiple media outlets in Indiana in recent days:
This attack on TIF might be isolated to Indiana for now, but if the distortions metastasize they could easily poison the TIF well in other parts of the country.