Auditor finds that tax increment financing has helped revitalize Denver

Tax-increment financing use by the Denver Urban Renewal Authority has been good overall for Denver, according to a new white paper by the Denver auditor’s office.

The sometimes controversial urban-renewal tool has been used to redevelop many areas in Denver. An audit shows that 42 tax-increment financing districts in place between 2004 and 2014 showed that TIF areas and projects were generating significant revenues and that overall, 80 percent of the total TIF amount outstanding has been paid off.

Tax-increment financing defers taxes for property declared as blighted for a specified period of time, allowing developers to invest in improvements on property that otherwise wouldn’t be developed. The smaller tax burden leaves more money available to finance the project and often is the difference between whether a project gets built or not.

Proponents of TIF say that it draws developers that might not otherwise be interested in a particular project or piece of property, but it hasn’t been without controversy.

Opponents say such programs need more oversight and unfairly allows cities to make tax decisions that impact counties, school districts and other taxing entities.

As this analysis shows, TIFs over the last decade have not only met their pay-off obligations, they have in some cases generated additional tax revenue prior to their pay-off dates,” said the auditor’s report. “More importantly, because the properties were generating limited or no tax revenue prior to TIF funding, the projects have provided additional tax revenue to help the city and county of Denver.

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