Tax Break Fueling Kansas City Boom Scrutinized

Kansas City is in the middle of a downtown building boom. Some $4 billion in construction is now under way, thanks in large part to a development tool known as tax increment financing, or TIF.

The tax breaks move some of the increased tax revenue created by a development back into the project to pay infrastructure costs for everything from sewers to parking garages. As federal and state economic development programs have dried up, cities across the country are increasingly turning to TIF to spur business growth.

Supporters in Kansas City say TIF has started to revive a blighted downtown and pay for roads and sewers in growing parts of town.

But critics worry that the city has handed out the tax breaks too freely and that their increased use could undermine the city's finances.

Maria Carter of member station KCUR reports.

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