What portion of income taxes go to creating better neighborhoods?

Whether you planned ahead or rushed to get them done, income taxes were due yesterday. Income tax pays for a variety of federal programs, including programs that help communities build in better ways. What portion of income taxes go to these programs?

The White House’s Federal Taxpayer Receipt breaks down how much of the budget was spent on different programs, and what that means for an average taxpayer’s tax payment. Enter your tax information below to find out exactly where your tax payment went.


Smart growth news – January 6, 2012

Ben Bernanke’s Solution To The Housing Crisis: Renting Foreclosed Homes

Huffington Post – January 5, 2012
While millions of foreclosed homes languish on the market at lower and lower prices, new data supports the idea that renting out these foreclosed homes could be the long-sought solution to the housing crisis. Rental units are leasing quickly, and the vacancy rate for apartments is at its lowest level in a decade, according to data released Thursday. In many areas, rents are rising.

Washington Wades Deeper into Housing
BusinessWeek – January 5, 2012

Lawmakers began 2011 with sweeping ambitions to shrink the U.S. government’s involvement in mortgage finance. They ended the year enacting policies that increase it. An 11th-hour extension of the payroll tax cut, signed into law on Dec. 23, will for the first time divert funds from Fannie Mae (FNMA) and Freddie Mac (FMCC), the two mortgage finance companies under U.S. conservatorship, to pay for general government expenses. Congress also took steps that are likely to increase the role of the Federal Housing Administration in the market—at the same time that the agency’s reserves hit a record low. And some economists are charging that the FHA’s finances are even worse than they appear.

Conservative Pols Hate Government Subsidies, Unless They Subsidize Sprawl
DC Streets – January 5, 2012

For a place that’s on the forefront of a heavily-subsidized brand of taxpayer-funded suburban sprawl, Celina is steeped in the kind of conservative politics that generally eschews government subsidies.

Schumer: ‘I’m going to lead fight’ on commuter tax break
The Hill – January 6, 2012

Schumer suggested that Thursday that lawmakers should use a package of pending tax breaks to extend a provision from the 2009 economic stimulus package that allowed public transit users to set aside $230 per month before taxes for commuting expenses. Because Congress has not yet extended the provision, which expired on Jan. 1, the limit was reduced to $125 at the beginning of the new year.


Voters come out in favor of smart growth measures

In last night’s elections, voters across the country proved once again that measures like transit, infrastructure, and downtown redevelopment have strong support across the board.

This was certainly true in Durham County, N.C. which approved a half-cent sale tax increase to improve bus services and support future commuter and light rail projects. Gov. Parris Glendening, President of Smart Growth America’s Leadership Institute, recently spoke in Durham in support of the measure, which passed 60%-40%.

Durham’s not alone – dozens of towns and cities also voted to support smart growth strategies. Here’s a look at how other measures fared in last night’s elections.


LOCUS President Chris Leinberger promotes increased transit investment in Georgia

Last Wednesday, LOCUS President Christopher Leinberger traveled throughout the Atlanta metropolitan region meeting with political and business leaders to lend support for the upcoming Transportation Investment Act referendum and to advocate for public transportation’s unique role as a driver of the region’s economic development.

In 2010, Georgia lawmakers passed the Transportation Investment Act, which calls for a statewide vote on whether to raise sales taxes one cent in order to fund mass transit, road, and other transportation projects in the state. The legislation divides the state into 12 regions and allows elected officials from each region to choose certain transportation projects to be funded by the tax. Currently, regions are compiling their list of transportation projects to be placed for a vote in 2012 voters.

Joined by Ray Christman, Director of Livable Communities Coalition at a Georgia Passenger Rail Coalition sponsored press conference in downtown Atlanta overlooking the future Multi-modal Passenger Terminal, Leinberger delivered a presentation on the latest trends in real estate and how demographic shifts are pushing demand toward transit-oriented, walkable development, which, as Leinberger concludes, is the next critical component of metro Atlanta’s economic development portfolio.


New report shows gasoline taxes do not cover highway costs

Opponents of efforts to move toward a more sustainable transportation system commonly claim that roads pay for themselves, while other modes of transportation do not. To answer those claims, U.S. PIRG has released a report entitled “Do Roads Pay For Themselves? Setting the Record Straight on Transportation Funding.” PIRG argues, “Highways do not – and, … Continued


Making the connection between urban planning and fiscal sustainability

Contrary to the traditional view that “big boxes” mean “big bucks” for the local tax base, “one of the best fiscal cures for cities is dense, urban development,” argues Hazel Borys of Placemakers in a recent New Urban Network post. She believes planning departments should play a key role when it comes to resolving critical … Continued


Webinar: How States Use Qualified Allocation Plans as Incentive for Preservation, Transit Oriented Development and Green Design & Building Practices

Enterprise Community Partners is hosting a webinar addressing “How States Use Qualified Allocation Plans as Incentive for Preservation, Transit Oriented Development and Green Design & Building Practices” on Thursday, January 20, 2011 at 2:00pm ET. Description With the low income housing tax credit market (LIHTC) coming back to life, how states prioritize this valuable resource … Continued