The Cost of Progress


Our elected “representatives” are currently giving only lip service to the notion of residential property tax relief.

Seems those tax bills, which in many cases have gone up 20 or 25 or even 33 percent over the space of a year or two, have gotten the attention of many people.

Governor Dirk addressed the issue in his State of the State address, on January 9 saying, “I recognize that property taxes are an increasing burden. I have a genuine concern in those areas of the state with rising property values, that seniors, those on fixed incomes, and the disabled might be priced out of their homes.”suburban_housing2.jpg

He offered some relief to the poorest of the poor. A “circuit breaker” the old and infirm can apply for. Or he suggests they should be able to defer their property taxes until they die, at which time the house is sold to pay off the taxes (with interest, no doubt).

The rest of us oughtta just suck it up. Dirk says, “If citizens believe they are paying too much in property taxes, that debate belongs in the county courthouses and
the city halls.”

That’s pretty strong and principled talk, except that the duck doing the quacking is a lame duck. Other “public servants” in the statehouse are debating the issue. Some of them want to get re-elected, so they’re giving it a little more attention.

Amazingly, some are arguing that any homeowner relief would simply shift the burden to other property taxpayers. Was this same argument brought up last year, when it
was decided to give huge corporations tax breaks on their property?

I didn’t just fall off a beet truck, but maybe I’m dumb. Can somebody explain to me how it works?

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. Whether or not Marie Antoinette actually replied “Let them eat cake then,” that sentiment certainly seems to sum up the attitudes of our elected, self proclaimed, “ruling class” elite.

    Hollywood Dirk says that property taxes are a “local issue” but the whole process is governed by the STATE Constitution and STATE Statute. He has done his best to take care of himself and his “pals.” Too bad that instead of a ticket to Moscow and a long career of real estate pandering Dirk didn’t receive a bus ticket to Fort Ord and subsequent tour or two of sloshing the rice paddies in SE Asia. I would STILL be terribly thankful to his draft board had that occurred.

    Dolores Cow? Last year she said that it was a “No Brainer” to support tax breaks and subsidies for big business and developers. But this year her constituents really don’t appear to deserve property tax relief. I guess we, her subjects, are not bleeding enough yet.

    Our Ada County Commishes have certainly made me proud too often to enumerate. Just one recent example is their disregard for open meeting laws and whom they feel should pay for their defense. As a Canyon County resident they provided me with much comic relief. Now however, as Will Rogers once said “It is always funnier when it happens to the other fellow.”

    The Boise City government? Time and space precludes even beginning to list their past and present shenanigans. They still provide me with a few chuckles but that is only because they have not quite extended their “Impact Zone” to the entire county. Well, I guess that isn’t quite true either. Boise’s poop ends up closer to home than I would like. Maybe they could cut an under the table deal to sell or give it to Jean Pierre to fertilize his new forest service land at Tamarack.

    The hot tar and feathers treatment couldn’t be considered a “violent overthrow” if it was just meant to correct wrongful attitudes would it?

  2. Most of our elected city, county, state and federal representatives (ruling class/elite) could care less about the people that elected them. Especially about residential property tax relief. They do care about big business and professional lobbysists, and are constantly giving commercial property tax relief.

    I don’t mind doing my share or even someone else’s share that isn’t able. But not someone who makes more than I do. Especially a business.

    What happened to equal taxation? Every year taxes take more and more of my “gross” income. I would love to have 90% of my gross income instead of the 50% I do now.

    Lame duck Dirk should just disappear from this great state now. He has to be the most obnoxious person in Idaho.

    Homeowner property tax relief would be possible for everyone if our public servants would tax all property equally per square foot.

    As my Dad said, throw the bums out.

  3. Sorry, I forgot to offer up my solutions to the governments’ dilemma of claiming to never have enough funding. I know how much money the state and county extort from my wife and I. We have moderate incomes and humble property holdings. We too wonder where all the money from the taxes on the thousands, some of them quite elaborate, new houses and their resident’s incomes go?

    Good Grief! Malignant growth of new residents, new businesses and manufacturers must not be self-funding! I have closely monitored it for over forty years. That is almost the length of time I have been a landowner. Our family’s observations go back generations. (No, we don’t support the mindless chant that “Growth is good” for just negative monetary reasons.)
    If the last forty years of “anything and everything for growth” policies paid for themselves, my taxes on various parcels of land located in several Idaho counties would not have increased three to nine hundred percent during that period. That doesn’t even acknowledge the three PERCENT (Dirk: Please note PERCENT. NOT three “pennies.”) sales tax that we didn’t even need to “Save Our Schools” until the early sixties.
    1. Tighten up the pollution and environmental laws that make us so attractive to feed lots, huge dairies, power plants, cyanide and strip miners, etc.) If we can’t quite bring ourselves to do that, at least tax them at the same income and property tax rates that we common serfs are forced to pay.
    2. Quit funding the commissions and other tax supported entities that promote the state. (That would save a lot of money by itself.) Stop fueling something that obviously doesn’t work.
    3. Upon arrival in Idaho the “new resident’s” first driver’s license, first hunting and fishing license, vehicle licenses, boat licenses, ATV tags and so forth should be increased as a sort of one time “Impact Fee.” Let them buy in to established programs instead of raising everyone’s fees to compensate.
    4. Place a head tax on all pre and school age children of the “new residents.” Let the bean counters assess a reasonable fee for this one.
    5. Allow impact fee assessments for new to Idaho construction permits. Apply them equally to businesses and houses. NO more land, income or permit fee “incentives” for anyone.
    5. ACTIVE, “in use” agricultural land should be protected. If it is being held for development, or has already been platted and subdivided, it should at least be taxed at the same rate that it sold for last or at the “developed” value. No exceptions to this one.
    Above all else Dirk, Dolores, Dave, et. al., try doing what we peons have to do: LIVE WITHIN YOUR BUDGET!

  4. I think the part that everyone misses here is that the politicians are not afraid of the voters any more. Why, because you keep voting for them. They also know that Idaho voters will come out in droves if you mention “gun control” or “abortion” or “gay rights”. They know that threats of “we’ll vote you out of office if you don’t do something about our property taxes” is a hollow threat. Most people in Idaho would rather complain, worship on the alter of the gun ownership bogey man, worry about God not being in the classroom, than get of their fat, Wal-Mart tax subsidized asses and go vote. Watch how many get out and vote tomorrow on the library bond election. Whether it passes or not, they know how many voters are willing to do their civic duty. And they are not scared of you.

  5. I am totally in favor of increasing the homeowner’s exemption – for owner occupied properties. A recent article in the Statesman quoted people saying that renters should get it too. Having been a landlord for many years and having been employed in the real estate business for most of my life I just about fell over laughing. Rents are basically established by market forces…if there is a glut of rentals then rental prices may go down – they are not tied directly to the landlord’s expenses. Meanwhile the landlord gets a direct write-off of all expenses, including taxes, insurance, utilities, etc. I am just not going to feel sorry for poor landlords. If you buy smart you can make a lot of money in investment real estate – you don’t need a government subsidy.

  6. Adding to the comments by dh regarding developer discounts on “ag land”- I recently fired off a letter to the Revenue & Taxation Committee only to get several “canned” responses about “not shifting the tax burden” and also how hard they are working on relief for property owners age 70+. I pay the same in one month’s worth of property taxes on 5 acres (I farm 4 acres, but don’t have an ag exemption)as my neighbor, a developer,pays annually on 23 acres. The land is listed as a “subdivision” in the land records and will be developed in 2 years. I had suggested that the “developer discount” be repealed immediately and not phased out over the next five years. Additionally, by the time I turn 70, my monthly taxes will be equal to or exceed the monthly mortgage payment I now make.

  7. Gene E. Bray
    Feb 19, 2006, 4:05 pm

    I retired from IBM (Tokyo, Japan) in 1987 and returned to my native state after 38 years’ absence in college, the U. S. Navy and IBM. That year I purchased a slightly above average market value retirement home on five acres west of Meridian in Ada County (one-half mile east of the Canyon County line). The 1986 taxes on the property were $1047 which were easily accommodated by IBM’s rather generous annual retirement annuity of $39,405. This property tax load consumed 2.6% of my gross income or 9.7 days.

    Fast forwarding to 2005, my gross annual income had increased to $57,388, courtesy of small IBM adjustments and Social Security kicking in. Smoothed out this is a compound annual growth rate of 2.1%, not too dissimilar from that of state employees. Similarly my property taxes have grown, but to $3662, a compound growth rate of 6.8% per year. It now takes me 23.4 days to reach Independence Day from this burden.

    My current life expectancy is a period about equal to the years I have been retired. Projecting forward another 17 years my gross income based on SSA indexing only at 2.4% annually will be approximately $64,144. Meanwhile, unchecked, my property taxes at 6.8% annually will have increased to $11,205 or 63.8 days of my expected gross income at that time.

    This constantly increasing burden is based primarily on the speculation driven and unrealized gain in the value of my property. My other taxes, income and sales, are rational and not leveraged by money I don’t have. I can reduce my consumption to keep my sales tax manageable and my income tax keeps pace with my cash flow, more or less. Looking at other tax paying entities in Idaho, how many have 23 or even 64 days carved out of their cash flow to merely cover their property taxes?

    Obviously I would much prefer increases in sales (with fewer exemptions) and income taxes as opposed to the extortion being extracted by property taxes as now structured. I would even support a recapture by taxing the property value growth beyond the CPI (consumer price index) measure of inflation, upon transfer of property ownership at death or other disposition. In other words, impose a tax on the real purchasing power gain above the adjusted cost basis at disposition.

    Elderly, fixed income citizens, those largely without advocates nor lobbyists in the Legislature, should not be bled white by the current property tax system. Let’s change the taxing system to be more dependent on real cash-flow, income and consumption. Let’s also get back on track and make up the arrearage in education funding – that’s where the future is. Do this in part by killing Kempthorne’s $50 energy rebate (political pandering) and the millions to purchase the Simplot palace’s buffer acreage. Most Idaho citizens live modestly and the Governor needs not to be that ostentatious – he is not royalty.

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