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Audit FAQs

What is an audit?

A financial audit is an independent examination and verification of the accuracy and completeness of information presented in an organization’s financial statements.

What is the purpose of an audit?

The purpose of an audit is the expression of an opinion as to whether the financial statements are fairly presented in conformity with appropriate accounting principles.

Which local government entities does the Office of the State Auditor audit directly?

The Office of the State Auditor performs approximately 150 financial and compliance audits and reviews approximately 400 single audits per year. Audited entities include: counties; the three first-class cities (Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Duluth); government authorities affiliated with these counties and cities; regional organizations; and other entities as required by Minnesota Statute. Click here to see the relevant statutes.

Who sets the accounting standards for local governments?

The nationally-recognized accounting standard-setting body for state and local governments is the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB). GASB establishes standards of financial accounting and reporting for state and local governmental entities. These standards guide the preparation of external financial reports of those entities.

Who sets the standards that auditors use in conducting audits of Minnesota local governments?

The independent entities set auditing standards for state and local governments in the United States are:

  • The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) is the national, professional organization for all Certified Public Accountants. Its mission is to provide members with the resources, information, and leadership that enable them to provide valuable services in the highest professional manner to benefit the public as well as employers and clients.
  • The Comptroller General of the United States of the U.S. Government Accountability Office is a federal government entity that issues Government Auditing Standards, also know as the “yellow book”, which supplement the standards of the AICPA and are required for certain audits of state and local governments. In particular they are required for audits of many entities receiving federal funding.
  • The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is a federal agency that has issued OMB Circular A-133, Audits of States, Local Governments, and Non-Profit Organizations, which provides the guidance for complying with the Single Audit Act Amendments of 1996 (the Single Audit Act), a federal law requiring audits of entities expending a certain threshold of federal funding.
  • The Office of the State Auditor issues the Minnesota Legal Compliance Audit Guide for Political Subdivisions. This audit guide establishes requirements for additional audit procedures for audits of Minnesota local governments. The procedures are to determine whether a local government is complying with certain Minnesota laws.

In Minnesota, what is the difference between the Office of the State Auditor and the Office of the Legislative Auditor?

The Office of the State Auditor (OSA) has financial oversight responsibility for local governments – cities, counties, towns, and special districts. The OSA is a constitutional office of the state under the direction of the elected State Auditor.

The Office of the Legislative Auditor (OLA) audits state government agencies and the constitutional offices, including the Office of the State Auditor. The OLA is under the direction of the Legislative Auditor, who is appointed by the Legislative Audit Commission.

Whom do I contact for questions about COFARS?

The County Financial Accounting and Reporting Standards (COFARS) manual can be accessed by clicking here. For COFARS-related questions, please contact Tom Karlson at 651-296-4715.

What is a Single Audit?

Before the Single Audit Act, governments and non-profit agencies receiving federal assistance were subject to audits by every federal department or agency that provided them money. In addition, many were required to have an annual financial audit. The federal government passed the Single Audit Act to require that the annual financial audit include audits of federal assistance received and spent. This “single audit" takes care of the audit requirements for all federal departments and agencies and saves the government or nonprofit from having to have a series of audits.

What is SAS 112?

In May 2006, the AICPA issued its Statement on Auditing Standards (SAS) 112, Communicating Internal Control Related Matters Identified in an Audit. SAS 112 establishes standards, responsibilities and guidance for auditors during a financial statement audit for identifying and evaluating a client’s internal control over financial reporting. This new standard requires the auditor to report in writing to management and the governing body on control deficiencies found during the audit that are considered significant deficiencies and/or material weaknesses. The Office of the State Auditor has prepared a comprehensive educational document on SAS 112: click here to view the document.

Can residents of a local government have their local government audited?

Residents can petition the Office of the State Auditor to perform an examination of a local government entity. Click here to see the "Petition and Request Audits" page for information on how the process works.

What is the audit threshold for a municipal liquor store?

Any city operating a municipal liquor store with total annual sales over $350,000 must submit an audited financial statement of the municipal liquor store to the Office of the State Auditor within 180 days of the close of the fiscal year.

What are the audit requirements for cities?

Cities over 2,500 in population, according to the latest census, must have an annual audit in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles.

Cities under 2,500, where there are separate offices of clerk and treasurer, are not generally required by Minnesota law to have an audit.

Cities under 2,500 with the combined office of clerk and treasurer must have an annual audit if total revenues exceed the annual threshold.

Cities under 2,500 with the combined office of clerk and treasurer must have an Agreed-Upon Procedures engagement once in every five-year period if total revenues are equal to or less than the annual threshold.

For the year ended December 31, 2015, the audit threshold is $207,000.

What are the audit requirements for towns?

Towns over 2,500 in population according to the latest census, with annual revenue of $922,000 or more for the year ended December 31, 2015, must have an annual audit in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles.

Towns with a combined clerk/treasurer must have an annual audit if annual revenue is more than $207,000 for the year ended December 31, 2015.

Towns with a combined clerk/treasurer must have an Agreed-Upon Procedures engagement once in every five-year period if annual revenue is equal to or less than $207,000 for the year ended December 31, 2015.

In general, Minnesota law does not require a town with separate offices of clerk and treasurer to have an annual audit if (1) the town has a population of 2,500 or less, or (2) the town’s annual revenue for the year ended December 31, 2015, is less than $922,000.

What are the audit requirements for special districts?

Special districts must have an annual audit under Minn. Stat. § 6.756, subd. 2 if total revenues exceed the annual audit threshold and if they are not subject to financial auditing and reporting requirements under any other law.

Special districts must have an Agreed-Upon Procedures engagement once in every five-year period under Minn. Stat. § 6.756, subd. 2 if total revenues are equal to or less than the annual audit threshold and if they are not subject to financial auditing and reporting requirements under any other law.

For the year ended December 31, 2015, the annual audit threshold is $207,000. This threshold applies to special districts with year-ends of September 30, 2015, December 31, 2015, March 30, 2016, and June 30, 2016. A few special districts have different fiscal year-ends than those listed.

What is a “special district” for purposes of the Minn. Stat. § 6.756 audit requirements?

"Special district" means a public entity with a special or limited purpose, financed by property tax revenues or other public funds, that is not included in a city, county, or town financial report as a component of that local government, that is created or authorized by law, and that is governed by:

    1. persons directly elected to the governing board of the district,

    2. persons appointed to the governing board of the district by local elected officials,

    3. local elected officials who serve on the board by virtue of their elected office, or

    4. a combination of these methods of selection.

Special district includes special taxing districts listed in section Minn. Stat. § 275.066.

What are the audit requirements for volunteer fire relief associations?

Volunteer fire relief associations with assets or liabilities of at least $500,000 must have an annual audit performed in accordance with generally accepted auditing standards of their financial statements that are prepared in conformity with generally accepted accounting principles.

Volunteer fire relief associations with assets and liabilities of less than $500,000 must have an annual certification by an accountant of their detailed financial statement. When performing an examination to certify the financial statement the attestation standards established by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants for an examination engagement should be followed.

Government Information FAQs

Where is the data on School Districts?

School district data can be obtained from the Minnesota Department of Education. Click here to go to the website.

What is the due date for cities reporting on a cash basis?

Cities are required to file a financial statement or audited financial statements and the city financial reporting form by March 31 of each year.

For cities that have audited financial statements, the audit report must be filed electronically using the Adobe Acrobat Format (PDF).

What is the due date for cities reporting in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles?

Cities are required to file an audited financial statement and the city financial reporting form by June 30 of each year.

The audit report must be filed electronically using the Adobe Acrobat Format (PDF).

What is the due date for towns reporting on a cash basis?

Towns are required to file a town financial reporting form by March 31 of each year.

For towns that have audited financial statements, the audit report must be filed electronically using the Adobe Acrobat Format (PDF) by June 30 of each year.

What is the due date for towns reporting in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles?

Towns are required to file an audited financial statement and the town financial reporting form by June 30 of each year.

The audit report must be filed electronically using the Adobe Acrobat Format (PDF).

What is the due date for special districts?

Except as provided by other law, special districts are required to file a financial statement or audited financial statements and the special district financial reporting form by 180 days after the end of the special district’s fiscal year under Minn. Stat. § 6.756, subd. 3.

For special districts that have audited financial statements, the audit report must be filed electronically using the Adobe Acrobat Format (PDF).

What is the audit threshold for a municipal liquor store?

Any city operating a municipal liquor store with total annual sales over $350,000 must submit an audited financial statement of the municipal liquor store to the Office of the State Auditor within 180 days of the close of the fiscal year.

What are the audit requirements for cities?

Cities over 2,500 in population, according to the latest census, must have an annual audit in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles.

Cities under 2,500, where there are separate offices of clerk and treasurer, are not generally required by Minnesota law to have an audit.

Cities under 2,500 with the combined office of clerk and treasurer must have an annual audit if total revenues exceed the annual threshold.

Cities under 2,500 with the combined office of clerk and treasurer must have an Agreed-Upon Procedures engagement once in every five-year period if total revenues are equal to or less than the annual threshold.

For the year ended December 31, 2015, the audit threshold is $207,000.

What are the audit requirements for towns?

Towns over 2,500 in population according to the latest census, with annual revenue of $922,000 or more for the year ended December 31, 2015, must have an annual audit in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles.

Towns with a combined clerk/treasurer must have an annual audit if annual revenue is more than $207,000 for the year ended December 31, 2015.

Towns with a combined clerk/treasurer must have an Agreed-Upon Procedures engagement once in every five-year period if annual revenue is equal to or less than $207,000 for the year ended December 31, 2015.

In general, Minnesota law does not require a town with separate offices of clerk and treasurer to have an annual audit if (1) the town has a population of 2,500 or less, or (2) the town’s annual revenue for the year ended December 31, 2015, is less than $922,000.

What are the audit requirements for special districts?

Special districts must have an annual audit under Minn. Stat. § 6.756, subd. 2 if total revenues exceed the annual audit threshold and if they are not subject to financial auditing and reporting requirements under any other law.

Special districts must have an Agreed-Upon Procedures engagement once in every five-year period under Minn. Stat. § 6.756, subd. 2 if total revenues are equal to or less than the annual audit threshold and if they are not subject to financial auditing and reporting requirements under any other law.

For the year ended December 31, 2015, the annual audit threshold is $207,000. This threshold applies to special districts with year-ends of September 30, 2015, December 31, 2015, March 30, 2016, and June 30, 2016. A few special districts have different fiscal year-ends than those listed.

What is a “special district” for purposes of the Minn. Stat. § 6.756 audit requirements?

"Special district" means a public entity with a special or limited purpose, financed by property tax revenues or other public funds, that is not included in a city, county, or town financial report as a component of that local government, that is created or authorized by law, and that is governed by:

    1. persons directly elected to the governing board of the district,

    2. persons appointed to the governing board of the district by local elected officials,

    3. local elected officials who serve on the board by virtue of their elected office, or

    4. a combination of these methods of selection.

Special district includes special taxing districts listed in section Minn. Stat. § 275.066.

How do I order the Small City and Town Accounting System (CTAS)?

To order CTAS Version 8, print out and complete the order form. The order form can be found by clicking here.

How can I get a copy of the Small City and Town Accounting System (CTAS) Reference Manual?

The Office of the State Auditor is completing work on a comprehensive user manual for CTAS Version 8. We are making a draft version of the Manual available to CTAS users on our website. The Draft manual can be found by clicking here.

Legal/Special Investigations FAQs

Must local government officials and employees contact the Office of the State Auditor if they discover evidence of missing public funds or property?

Yes. When local government officials or employees discover evidence of missing public funds or property, they are required by law to promptly report the facts of the situation, in writing, to the Office of the State Auditor. A local government official or employee is also required to notify local law enforcement. Click here to see the relevant Statute, Minn. Stat. § 609.456, subd. 1.

What should a public accountant do if evidence of financial misconduct is discovered during an audit of a political subdivision?

Public accountants are required by Minn. Stat. § 6.67 to promptly report to the the Office of the State Auditor and the appropriate county attorney when they discover evidence of financial misconduct during an audit of a political subdivision or a local public pension plan. In order to qualify as “prompt,” reporting should be done prior to the routine filing of the public entity’s audit with the the Office of the State Auditor. This reporting obligation includes the following: counties, cities, towns, school districts, metropolitan or regional agencies, public corporations, local public pension plans, volunteer fire relief associations, special districts, watershed districts, sanitary districts, regional public library districts, park districts, economic development authorities, and housing and redevelopment authorities.

I have a concern about possible misuse or theft of public funds in my local government. Can I contact your office?

Yes. You can report your concern to the Office of the State Auditor’s Legal/Special Investigations Division. Click here to see the "Reporting Financial Concerns" page.

Can a resident petition the Office of the State Auditor to conduct a financial audit of a local government’s books and records?

Yes. Click here to see the "Petition and Request Audits" page for information on how the process works, how many signatures are required, and for forms.

Can a local government official request the Office of the State Auditor to conduct a financial audit of a local government’s books and records?

Yes. Click here to see the "Petition and Request Audits" page for information on how the process works, how many signatures are required, and for forms.

Who audits state agencies and constitutional offices?

The Office of the Legislative Auditor audits state agencies and constitutional offices. Click here to see their website

I would like to make a public data request of your office. Whom do I contact?

Please submit a written request to Mr. Mark Kerr, Data Practices Officer, Office of the State Auditor, 525 Park Street, Suite 500, St. Paul, Minnesota 55103, or email: Mark.Kerr@osa.state.mn.us.

I am having problems obtaining documents from my local government. Whom should I contact?

Questions about obtaining public documents from a local government may be addressed to the Minnesota Department of Administration, Information Policy Analysis Division, (651) 296-6733 or 1-800-657-3721. Click here to see their website.

Several local government officials met to discuss local government issues without holding a public meeting. Whom should I contact?

Questions and concerns about the Open Meeting Law are handled by the Minnesota Department of Administration, Information Policy Analysis Division, (651) 296-6733 or 1-800-657-3721. Click here to see their website.

Does my local government have to keep its records forever?

Yes and No. Generally, a local government is required to retain its records indefinitely, unless it has adopted a formal record retention schedule. A record retention schedule identifies how long a record must be kept and when it may be destroyed. For more information, please contact the Minnesota Historical Society, State Archives, (651) 297-3260. Click here to see their website.

Does the Office of the State Auditor review election concerns regarding ballots and voting?

No. The Office of the State Auditor only has authority to review financial matters involving local governments. Election issues should be brought to the attention of your local county attorney or the Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State, Elections, at (651) 215-1440. Click here to see their website.

I don’t like my local officials’ spending priorities. Is there anything I can do to change that?

Local governments have the authority to make policy decisions about how local government funds are spent. Residents may provide feedback to local officials on spending priorities by attending public meetings, communicating with their local elected officials, and by voting on election day.

What can I do if I disagree with the valuation of my property or the amount of my property taxes?

The Property Tax Division of the Minnesota Department of Revenue oversees the administration of Minnesota’s property tax system. The department has prepared a fact sheet that provides guidance on appealing the value or classification of your property. Click here to see the fact sheet on the Department of Revenue website.

How do I challenge a special assessment placed on my property by my local government to pay for an improvement project?

We suggest that you contact your local government entity and ask how a special assessment may be challenged.

Local units of government have the authority to impose special assessments for certain improvements. Generally, the amount charged in a special assessment must bear a direct relationship to the value of the benefit the property receives. The process for challenging a proposed assessment is set out in Minnesota Statutes. It contains strict timelines. Click here to see the statute (you will be directed to an external website).

A person who wants to challenge a proposed assessment may need to consult with a private attorney.

The appeal process is described at Minn. Stat. § 429.081. Click here to see the statute (you will be directed to an external website).

I disagree with my local government about: 1) a charge on my municipal utility bill; 2) an increase in utility rates; and 3) a policy decision about utility rates. What can I do?

Local units of government have the authority to set utility rates within their borders. We recommend you contact your local government to express your concerns.

I am concerned with the way my local government is keeping minutes of its meetings. Can the Office of the State Auditor help?

The Office of the State Auditor has prepared a Statement of Position that provides general guidance on what information should be included in meeting minutes. Click here to see the Statement of Position.

When does a local government have to use sealed bids?

The Office of the State Auditor has prepared a Statement of Position that provides information on city bidding and contracting requirements. Click here to see the Statement of Position. The Office of the State Auditor has also prepared a Statement of Position that provides information on county bidding and contracting requirements. Click here to see the Statement of Position.

Other Postemployment Benefits (OPEB) FAQs

What is OPEB?

OPEB stands for Other Postemployment Benefits and includes all benefits, other than pensions, promised to retirees.

What is an OPEB trust?

Government entities that promise medical and other benefits to employees after they leave employment have a liability for those future benefits. Minnesota law permits government entities to create trusts to set aside money to pay future OPEB benefits. An OPEB trust may be revocable or irrevocable.

We have an OPEB trust. What reporting is required to the Office of the State Auditor?

Trust administrators of OPEB trusts created by local governments are required to annually report and certify certain investment information to the Office of the State Auditor. Trust administrators must also certify that the procedures used to compute rates of return are consistent with certain industry standards.

What is the deadline for reporting?

The reporting information must be filed annually with the Office of the State Auditor by October 25, starting in 2015.

How can I report the investment information to the Office of the State Auditor?

OPEB trust administrators should complete the annual reporting form that the Office of the State Auditor prescribes. Contact the Office of the State Auditor at OPEB@osa.state.mn.us to obtain a copy of the reporting form.

Who can I contact with questions?

For assistance with OPEB investment reporting questions, please email OPEB@osa.state.mn.us.

Pension/Fire Relief Association FAQs

What is a volunteer fire relief association?

A volunteer fire relief association is a governmental entity that receives and manages public money to provide retirement benefits for individuals providing the governmental services of firefighting and emergency first response. The relief association is a separate entity from the affiliated fire department, and is governed by its own board of trustees. Relief associations have various reporting requirements with the Office of the State Auditor, as well as with other state and federal agencies. The Office of the State Auditor certifies relief associations as eligible for state aid once all reporting information has been received and any identified issues have been resolved.

I have heard that Minnesota has a decentralized pension system for volunteer firefighters. What does this mean?

Firefighters from each volunteer fire department in Minnesota have the ability to create a pension plan that is administered by a nonprofit corporation, known as a volunteer fire relief association. There are about 650 volunteer fire relief associations that currently exist, covering nearly 20,000 volunteer firefighters. By contrast, state and local government employees are covered by one of three state-wide retirement systems.

What is the relationship between a relief association and the city or town fire department?

City and town fire departments are departments of the city or town, just like the public works or parks and recreation departments are departments of the city or town. Relief associations are affiliated with a city or town fire department, but are separate entities from the fire department.

Each relief association is governed by a board of trustees, which includes three municipal representatives. Cities and towns may be required to approve a relief association’s pension benefit level, and also may be required to make contributions to fund relief association pension benefits.

My fire department doesn’t have an affiliated relief association. Are we still eligible for state aid?

Municipalities with an organized fire department that don't have an affiliated relief association are eligible for state aid if they prepare and submit a detailed financial report to the Office of the State Auditor. The financial report is on a form prescribed by the State Auditor. The form identifies the sources of receipts and the purposes of disbursements for fire protection service. The financial report is due to the Office of the State Auditor by July 1 annually.

What forms does my relief association need to complete? Where can I find copies of them?

Reporting requirements depend upon your relief association’s plan type and asset size. A document called “Key Reporting Requirements" that lists the various reporting forms that must be submitted is provided in the Pension Forms page of our website. Click here to view the Key Reporting Requirements document.

The reporting forms are also found in the Forms section of our website by clicking here.

What are the reporting deadlines? When do my forms need to be submitted?

Relief associations with assets and liabilities of less than $500,000 must submit reporting forms to the Office of the State Auditor by March 31. Relief associations with assets or liabilities that exceed the $500,000 threshold must submit reporting forms by June 30. Once a relief association crosses the statutory threshold, it must continue to file by June 30, even if the assets or liabilities subsequently fall below the threshold. Relief associations also have reporting requirements with other state offices and agencies. View the Key Reporting Requirements document by clicking here to see the reporting deadlines for these other agencies.

What are the audit requirements for volunteer fire relief associations?

Volunteer fire relief associations with assets or liabilities of at least $500,000 must have an annual audit performed in accordance with generally accepted auditing standards of their financial statements that are prepared in conformity with generally accepted accounting principles.

Volunteer fire relief associations with assets and liabilities of less than $500,000 must have an annual certification by an accountant of their detailed financial statement. When performing an examination to certify the financial statement the attestation standards established by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants for an examination engagement should be followed.

What resources are available for my relief association on your website?

Information and resources for relief association trustees are available on the Office of the State Auditor's website, including training tools, statements of position, newsletters, and sample bylaw guides. Click here to download a pdf document which provides an overview of relief association resources on our website.

How is fire state aid calculated?

Click here to view a description prepared by the Department of Revenue (pdf, 20k) of how state fire aid is calculated.

When will my relief association receive its fire state aid for the year? How much in fire state aid will we receive?

Fire state aid is disbursed at four different times during the year. Relief associations that have submitted all required reporting information on time and have resolved any identified issues usually receive their fire state aid during the first round of payments, which is on or about October 1. Relief associations that submit information late or have data issues to resolve usually receive their fire state aid at one of the other payment times, which are on or about November 15, March 15, or June 15. Click here to go to the Pension Documents page, which includes links to Fire State Aid amounts.

Where can I find copies of the state laws that govern volunteer fire relief associations?

Each year the Pension Division of the Office of the State Auditor prepares a booklet that contains many of the state laws that are applicable to volunteer fire relief associations. The booklet, called the “Selected Relevant Statutes," can be downloaded or printed for quick reference. The booklet is available by clicking here.

You can find copies of all state laws on the website for the Office of the Revisor of Statutes. Click here to see the Revisor's website.

I am a new trustee for a relief association and I have some basic questions about our pension fund. Whom can I contact?

The Pension team at the Office of the State Auditor is always willing to help answer relief association questions. Contact information for each member of the Pension Division is available by clicking here.

Which pension plans does the Office of the State Auditor oversee?

The Office of the State Auditor oversees local public pension plans. Because Minnesota has a decentralized pension system, there are about 700 local public pension plans in the State. These plans include about 650 volunteer fire relief association plans, a local salaried fire pension plan, and two large teachers' pension plans. The large plans are the Bloomington Fire Department Relief Association, the Duluth Teachers' Retirement Fund Association, and the St. Paul Teachers’ Retirement Fund Association. The Office of the State Auditor also oversees the investment reporting of the University of Minnesota Supplemental Benefits Plan.

Tax Increment Financing FAQs

What Is Tax Increment Financing?

Tax Increment financing (TIF) is a statutory financing tool to promote economic development, redevelopment, and housing development in areas where it would not otherwise occur. A TIF authority, which could be a city, an entity created by a city, or an entity created by a county, “captures" the revenues generated by the increase in net tax capacity resulting from new development within a designated geographic area called a TIF district. The TIF authority uses the tax increments to finance public improvements and other qualifying costs related to the new development that generated the increase in net tax capacity.

For more information, see our Training Opportunities page to find links to short educational videos on TIF, including an introduction to TIF. Additional information may be obtained from the following links (you will be directed to an external website):

http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/hrd/issinfo/tifmain.aspx?src=21

http://www.revenue.state.mn.us/local_gov/prop_tax_admin/at_manual/13_01.pdf (pdf, 422k)

Who is Authorized to Exercise TIF Powers?

The TIF Act authorizes development authorities within municipalities to create TIF districts. TIF authorities include, for example, cities using the municipal development districts law, housing and redevelopment authorities, port authorities, economic development authorities, and rural development financing authorities. Counties can establish housing and redevelopment authorities and economic development authorities.

For more information, see our Training Opportunities page to find links to short educational videos on TIF.

Click here to go to the House of Representatives House Research website for additional information.

How is a TIF District Created?

The TIF authority takes the first step in creating a TIF district by adopting a TIF plan for the district. The TIF plan provides information about the project to be funded with tax increment from the TIF district and authorizes the use of tax increment from the district to pay TIF-eligible project costs.

To create a new TIF district, the TIF authority must obtain approval of the TIF plan for the district from the governing body of the municipality in which the TIF district is located after the municipality has published a notice and held a public hearing. For example, if a city’s port authority proposes to create a TIF district in the city, the city council must approve the TIF plan for the district. If a county’s housing and redevelopment authority proposes to create a TIF district in a township in the county, the county board must approve the TIF plan. In many cases, the commissioners of the TIF authority include some or all of the council members.

Before a TIF district is created, the TIF authority must provide a copy of the proposed TIF plan and certain information about the proposed TIF district to the county auditor and the clerk of the school board who, in turn, provide copies of these documents to the members of the county board of commissioners and the school board. The county board and school board may comment on the proposed district but cannot prevent the creation of the district. One instance where a county board may prevent creation of a TIF district is in those situations in which the county is the municipality that must approve the TIF plan.

For more information, see our Training Opportunities page to find links to short educational videos on TIF. Additional information may be obtained from the following links (you will be directed to an external website):

http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/hrd/issinfo/tifmain.aspx?src=21

http://www.revenue.state.mn.us/local_gov/prop_tax_admin/at_manual/13_01.pdf (pdf, 422k)

What are the Different Types of TIF Districts?

Redevelopment Districts – The primary purpose of a redevelopment district is to eliminate blighting conditions. Qualifying tax increment expenditures include acquisition of sites containing substandard buildings or improvements, demolishing and removing substandard structures, eliminating hazardous substances, clearing the land, and installing utilities, sidewalks, and parking facilities. Often this is referred to as "leveling the playing field", allowing developed cities to compete for development with outlying cities with bare land. Redevelopment districts are intended to conserve the use of existing utilities, roads, and other public infrastructure and to discourage urban sprawl.

Economic Development Districts – An economic development district is a short-term district that does not meet the requirements of any other type of district, but is in the public interest because it will (i) discourage commerce, industry or manufacturing from moving to another state or city, (ii) increase employment in the state, or (iii) preserve and enhance the tax base. Tax increment revenues from economic development districts are used primarily to assist manufacturing, warehousing, storage and distribution, research and development, telemarketing, and tourism. Commercial development (retail sales) is excluded, except in small cities.

Housing Districts – The purpose of a housing district is to assist development of owner-occupied and rental housing for low- and moderate-income individuals and families. Housing can be constructed on bare land as long as the qualifying criteria are met.

Pre-1979 Districts –TIF districts created prior to the enactment of the TIF Act are called Pre-1979 districts. All Pre-1979 districts have decertified but some continue to hold tax increment and will report until all tax increments have been properly disposed.

Renewal & Renovation Districts – The purpose of a renewal and renovation district is similar to that of a redevelopment district except the degree of blight removal may be less and the development activity is more closely related to inappropriate or obsolete land use.

Soils Condition District – The purpose of a soils condition district is to assist in the redevelopment of property which is not developable due to the existence of hazardous substances, pollution or contaminants. The presence of these materials must require removal or remedial action for the property to be used, and the estimated cost of the proposed removal and remediation exceeds the fair market value of the land prior to curative measures.

Uncodified Law – Special law may be enacted for one or more municipalities permitting the generation of tax increment revenues from geographic areas not meeting the definition of a type of TIF district authorized under the TIF Act. Examples are housing transition districts authorized for the cities of Crystal, Fridley, St. Paul, and Minneapolis or the distressed rental properties authorized for Brooklyn Park. The authorities for these unique types of districts must make findings defined in their respective uncodified law.

For more information, see our Training Opportunities page to find links to short educational videos on TIF, including a video on the types of TIF districts.

How is Tax Increment Calculated?

When a TIF district is created, the county certifies both the original tax capacity and the original local tax rate. The original tax capacity is considered the “base" value and the property taxes generated from the “base" value are distributed to the appropriate taxing jurisdictions. As the development occurs, the increase in the tax capacity is captured. This is referred to as the captured tax capacity. The property taxes generated from the captured tax capacity are paid to the TIF authority to be used for qualified TIF expenditures.

For more information, see our Training Opportunities page to find links to short educational videos on TIF, including an introduction to TIF.

Click here to go to the Department of Revenue website for additional information (pdf, 422k).

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