07.01.2008 0

Property Taxes are High because of High Spending

  • On: 07/16/2008 14:12:03
  • In: Property Rights
  • Homeowners nationwide know that their property taxes are too high, and are getting higher. But many of them may not realize why: not because of an increase in their property’s value, but the expansion of government spending.

    Paul T. Wink seeks to dispel some misconceptions about what is driving up the costs of property taxes in his opinion piece, “Blame more spending, not reassessments, for high property taxes,” from March 4th, 2008:

    “Our property taxes are too high. But this has nothing to do with assessments or reassessments. An annual reassessment does not result in a penalty to taxpayers as claimed, so long as all properties are treated the same. Whether properties are assessed at full value or a portion, or reassessed annually has nothing to do with your taxes. Only the increased spending by the taxing authorities (largely schools when discussing property taxes) increases your taxes…

    “This is a point that has been missed by a number of people in authority, like Michael Rights, the Town of Southeast supervisor, who recently proposed a freeze on assessments that was smartly rejected by the majority of the Town Board. While such a proposal serves the political purpose of making it appear that he is doing something to reduce taxes, it has no such effect. Only reduced spending will lower taxes [emphasis added].”

    Annual property assessments may be a convenient target for self-styled populists seeking to exploit high property taxes as an issue. But they are not the problem. The problem of high taxes is caused by big spending. And the solution is not a cruelly progressive tax that punishes people for improving their homes. It’s to reward them by cutting their property taxes so that they can improve their homes even more.

    And how do to do that? Well, one way is to rope in teachers’ unions whose excessive salary demands and excessive pension slush funds get passed on to the cost per student calculus of school budgets. Which in turn means higher property taxes for homeowners – many of whom have no children in public schools.

    ALG Perspective: As Mr. Wink notes, it is government spending which determines property tax rates, not property assessments which simply determine the value of the property. In other words, property taxes are not going up at the same rate as property values, they are going up at the same rate as increases in government spending, especially to underperforming public schools. This simply proves that Big Government is out of control, and hard-working homeowners are paying the price for it.

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