City Government

Reader’s Argument Against Property Taxes

A GUARDIAN reader sent in this comment on a previous TAX POST. For the sake of reader debate, we figured it worth posting up front.

GUEST OPINION
By Greg C

I’m quite amazed at the back and forth between pro property taxes and against. This folks is exactly what politicians thoroughly want!

The never ending examples of pros and cons regarding property taxes is just that. You have people that have raised 1 or 2 kids and are retired still paying inflated increases. You have people with 6 or 7 kids getting a a benefit from those with no kids and the retirees.

I live in Meridian, next to one of the few undeveloped areas where I know the homeowners are elderly, do I believe they should be paying equivalent taxes (ten acres)imposed by the incompetent city of Meridian, hell no.

Take a look at your assessment bill/notice. CWI, West ADA recreation, Meridian library, the real questionable one that is pretty vague-ADA COUNTY!

In all sincerity, property taxes are criminal. Think about it? There are many that work to pay off all their Bill’s, yet the local governments have a NOOSE always prepared for tightening.

Fairness starts by a abolishing property taxes and raising the sales tax and gas 10 cents a gallon. These two additions would more than surpass property taxes. Also the revenues would be substantial do to the hundreds of thousands of tourists, and travelers passing through.

I could continue to give examples of alternatives, however,many love to stick to the current bickering over the antiquated tax system, just as the representatives like it, because they know the majority of citizens don’t recognize INCREMENTALISM.

Comments & Discussion

21 comments for “Reader’s Argument Against Property Taxes”

  1. I totally agree. It’s not fair from a number of aspects. Hard to administer and the amount paid has no relationship to either ability to pay or services received. That said it would require political courage to make changes…and we have none.

  2. I agree, but
    Nov 24, 2018, 3:46 pm

    It’s worse than you think. Huge numbers of people are only focused on payments, have not saved a dime and never will. Their singular financial knowledge is how much more can they afford in payments. Many of these folks make payments on a house but the moment they have enough equity they get another refinance. There are people who don’t even know if within the city or not. So long story short, the property tax incrementalism is not noticed by most because they live in a blizzard of payments.

    You say ‘replace’ with. I say end property tax but do not completely replace the revenue. Force the local government growth to reverse. A government job should not be better or more secure than private sector employment. A government vehicle should not be newer and more expensive than private sector etc. The unneeded luxurious growth of local government, however it’s funded, is the core problem.

    Why local governments (and local government unions) are bombarding us with propaganda about how good we have it… is to soften us up. They have every intention of turning Boise/Ada into a high tax area so they can get paid as well as their counterparts from high tax areas. When they go to big partytown conventions and compare paychecks they return home determined to extract more from the local taxpayer.

    https://taxfoundation.org/

  3. It was pointed out to me a whole lot of years ago, that as long as you can have your house taken away from you (i.e., stolen) for non-payment of taxes, you NEVER REALLY OWN YOUR HOME. You are just paying rent.

  4. Some very smart people are saying that property taxes are going to go up, up, up; as real property is one of the only assets that can’t flee the criminal governments grasp.

    Stop paying your taxes, and find out who really owns your property.

    The reason our Overlords will never rely on Income Tax is that we are becoming increasingly impoverished despite the nonsense about a wonderful economy. Poor folks don’t have much to steal, and BIG GOV needs to always get BIGGER and more intrusive. The only people who are flourishing are the rich, and they have a thousand ways to not pay income taxes.

    No, BIG GOV is going to keep raising property taxes until we are a nation of renters, trapped in a “cashless” prison, where our every bit-penny and communication is monitored by our jailers, as they watch our every move through our “smart” devices. Once they get the privately owned “assault” rifles we will be absolutely powerless and at the mercy of the sociopaths who have morphed from servant to master.

    America, land of the fleeced, home of the slave.

  5. Will never forget it. A WW II vet patient of mine lived in SE Boise since the 50’s. As development encircled him, his property taxes escalated and crushed his retirement, forcing him to sell his life long home as a quite elderly man. This is criminal and demonstrates the utter contempt that Government has for the citizens it “serves”. The Idaho Constitution needs to be changed and property taxation abolished or vastly reduced, for many reasons.

  6. What’s “fair”?

    In a libertarian utopia (and I readily admit to having libertarian leanings)…
    taxes would be minimal, BUT…

    – roads and other infrastructure would be financed by the USERS of the infrastructure, via some form of toll
    – if your house never caught on fire, you’d never pay a penny for fire-suppression services
    – education would be financed by families and loved ones of those receiving the education
    – there would be no “public” lands; if you want to go camping or feed the duckies, you’d pay admission to privately-owned land (or maybe some altruistic owner would open his private land to the commoners)
    … etc.

    In reality, we’ve decided that society-at-large benefits from having firefighters, public lands, roads, public transportation, free or low-cost primary schools, etc., and we are willing to subsidize it. (“We” being the majority. If you don’t like it, all you need to do is convince a majority to see things your way. Not always easy.)

    A sales tax hardly seems any more fair or unfair than a property tax. It could be argued that a sales tax hurts the poor the most, because a larger percentage of their revenue is used to buy the necessities of life.

    I’ve given up on thinking I’m always being treated fairly. Life is unfair, and then you die.

    (I do know this – there is blatant and inherent unfairness in having your property tax fluctuate wildly, due to this year’s “on-paper” property valuation. What’s fair about raising property taxes by 30% from one year to the next, solely because IF I sold this year, I could get more than IF I sold last year?)

  7. Eamonn Harter
    Nov 25, 2018, 3:22 pm

    The prices of property have again been driven to insane levels by the policies of the Federal Reserve. When you have artificially-suppressed interest rates for nearly a decade, another bubble in housing and land development isn’t a big surprise. The policies of Ben Bernanke and his predecessor Alan Greenspan are directly responsible for expensive real estate and by extension, Treasure Valley growth. And off of the higher property values, the local government Sultans can soak the serfs for more money to build temples to themselves. Even if you rent, you still have your rent driven up by the cost of property because landlords expect a certain rate of return on their investment. My hope is that interest rates will continue to rise which will help pop the current housing bubble and quell growth.

  8. “Bought” our place 30+ years ago. Paid it off 15 years ago. Now, on fixed income, spending on property taxes what we spent then on mortgage payments.

  9. From the “muh freedom” perspective it seems reasonable. But is it really worse than the government injecting itself into every private business transaction via sales and gas taxes?

    Sales and gas taxes are subject to violent downturns of which our macro-economy seems increasingly vulnerable. Idaho is notorious for stripping property tax funding from the education budget in 2006, then gutting the education budget when the economy collapsed two years later. Then residents get asked to pass supplemental property tax levies to pay teachers and keep the lights on! Has anything really been accomplished here with these attempted tax shifts?

    Is the property tax still bad if voters choose to tax themselves when a tax-cut worshipping legislature refuses to do their job and fund government services? In my mind, the property tax levy is a useful way for citizens to get the services a derelict legislature refuses to fund. Democracy in action!

  10. Think of what extra benefits over the past 5 years you have received from the property tax increases, good luck. True math and economics would suggest the increase in population and businesses would give the revenues to balance the needs. However, the special interest[s] that get their needs, usually require the demands for MORE MONEY.
    If the people and politicians were completely honest about property taxes, then let’s be HONEST. the exemptions such as religious exemptions. Living in four other states, this particular issue is the one avoided like the plague. the hundreds of millions in absent revenues from religious organizations is phenomenal, the thousands of acres of land and buildings that are under the status of religious exemptions is real.the original intent of that specific exemption is for the house of worship, not investments.
    Look at the state run lottery system, but before you dive deep into it, REMEMBER, it’s for the kids, and the age to play is 18, not 21. Please do t tell me it isn’t gambling, I lived in Vegas for 22 years, and the objective is TO WIN. The state never disclosed the cost to run the lottery system, but they sure do their damned best to promote it.

  11. Pretty weak argument.

    To exchange the ‘unfairness’ of property tax for a higher sales or fuels tax is misunderstanding the ‘fairness’ of progressive taxes vs the unfairness of regressive taxes.

    And what is ‘fair’?
    How about “it’s fair if you pay it and not me”? 🙂

    A much better change would be to
    1) eliminate the exemption for nonprofit organizations- churches, hospitals and universities with more than $100K in revenue.
    2) eliminate the ag exemption for speculation holdings by developers such as M3, Hubble, Barton, etc.
    3) require sales disclosures to county assessors to get a more accurate market value
    4) increase ACHD Commissioner’s tax bills.

    Increase the base of payers- lower the rate.
    That is always more ‘fair’.

  12. Eamonn Harter
    Nov 26, 2018, 10:10 pm

    With the mention of the tax exemption for churches, I immediately thought of Joel Osteen and his cheesy, gold-plated grin, gelled hair and private jet. Nice work if you can get it.

    EDITOR NOTE–The worst (best?) example is the hospitals. They PROFIT in the tens of millions annually.

  13. Easterner:

    That’s super smart. I like your thinking.

    And thinking of fair, when the state of Idaho bought the HP campus, they withdrew over $30 million from Ada County’s tax base, making everyone else pay more because now that property is tax exempt.

    We all need to pay our fair share, but when business gets special favors, it’s no longer fair.

    EDITOR NOTE–When the State left the old M-K Plaza it changed from a privately owned taxpaying property to a non-profit tax exempt owned by St. Luke’s. In finance circles that is called “a double whammy.”

  14. Off topic but wondering
    Nov 27, 2018, 5:35 pm

    I live near a house used to provide care to disabled and recovering etc. Very steep fee per room I notice. I also live near several undeclared halfway homes with same story but less professional supervision. I noticed most of these homes are paying the minimum property tax as if a private home occupied by the owner. Some of these homes are pulling in thousands a month in rent and client service fees.

    So my question is, what tax should be paid? What law is being violated?

    EDITOR NOTE–Good question. We will need an address or two in order to get a definitive answer from the Ada County Assessor. You can send it here (I will not post the address) or give it via the CONTACT button.

  15. Clippityclop
    Nov 27, 2018, 9:30 pm

    With all the new development in Ada County, why are not the developers and their lot sales funding their full share of tax burden, especially for infrastructure? My rural taxes jumped significantly. I am sick and tired of subsidizing metastatic and greedy growth. Pony up! Commissioners, ACHD and ITD hold them accountable. Remember that these Planned Communities in the County are supposed to pay their way and not be a burden on the tax payers in Ada County. I ain’t seeing it.
    Enough already.

  16. We ought to consider more effective tax solutions to limiting the size and growth of government. Here are some key points to more effectively rein in property tax increases:

    Put forth a Proposition by way of ballot for all electors to consider the following. The County – indeed the State – cannot increase any residential property tax any year by more than 5%, except by special election of 2/3 of the voters; regardless of any assessed value. If that means lower mil levy rates upon which taxes are assessed, so be it. A single adjustment increase can be made upon sale on residential property, if owned by the same owner consecutively for at least 15 years. Such adjustment cannot exceed a 50% increase over the last year’s taxable assessment prior to the sale of property.

    No doubt in a boom economy with large speculative interests at play, there will need to occur mandatory resets of mil levy rates. Yet, in a down economy when taxes must be raised in spite of economic conditions, there is an increase allowed up to 5%, and there is special election assignments to place such petition on the ballot.

    We have become far too trusting of the empty idea that somehow government grows so that we can all benefit. That’s a false narrative proven as such by any casual observation. In Idaho, we are one of only 5 or 6 States that have such high gas tax. Yet, our roads suffer continuously. We are paying very high bond rates for schools, yet our children are getting only at best a tepid “average” passing grade in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). And our bridges are literally falling down. Our sewers cannot handle the demands. The examples seem almost endless.

    We need to take care of ourselves by being more responsible for the costs of growth in the Valley. Wherever there is new development, be that commercial, manufacturing, residential or multi-family, impact fees must pay for the attending costs to support expanded infrastructure of police, fire, water, sewer and traffic. Yet, we continually refuse in Ada County and Idaho Legislature to seriously consider impact fees. The retirees, the fixed income and the poor all are hurt by someone else’s greed and demands for more. The government is US. We need to step up and compel responsible funding from those responsible for costs and services.

  17. TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION. We all should look at our elected AS Public Workers CAUSE THEY ARE! Elected public workers are sworn in to work for the public, their constituents. Not out of state developers or other elected public servants!

    Growth always comes to the top of conversations and one has to wonder if both our elected and hired public workers are to blame.

    Foe example. Boise elected public workers decided to purchase the Lucky Dog bar for a police sub station. Over paid for sure. Meanwhile Boise’s public owns property on the green belt that wasn’t adequate for the BFD, we built a new training center in ADA County for them to train. Along with that property the public owns the new, under construction, no income, low income housing project across the street.

    So elected public workers take another property off of the tax role, WHICH MEANS PROPERTY OWNERS, THE PUBLIC, pays more property tax! So one has to ask what was learned from the Fire Bond fiasco by our elected public workers? The above action was NOT in the best interest of the Public.

    I mention this as Boise elected workers are holding open hearings to discuss run away property prices? And one has to wonder if both our elected and hired public workers are to blame.

  18. I am 79 years old. I purchased a modest home in NE Boise thirty years ago. It will be paid off in two years.

    At that time my mortgage payments will disappear. However, I will still pay $400 per month in property taxes, $100 more than my total mortgage payments when I bought the house.

    Bottom line: I am being priced out of my home by having to pay for bloated City and County Government, Ball parks, an anachronistic library, a desire called streetcar and developmental subsidies.

    The “increased value of my home” is meaningless. If I have to sell out, where do I move? Maybe I can sleep in the new library!

  19. Eliminating Elections is next
    Dec 2, 2018, 2:33 pm

    Lots of foolish passive people on here just now noticing their high taxes, after lifetime of voting the same people into office over and over.

    It’s not a dem / rep problem so much as it is a dem / rino problem. I can’t identify more than one state or federal rep who is not tax loving rino.

    We did this to ourselves. We better fix it soon because their next steps is eliminating elections. Bieter already has eliminated debt elections. No Joke people.

  20. Yossarian_22
    Dec 2, 2018, 3:30 pm

    For me it’s the unrestrained printing of money. How does money get created? There is only ONE way. It is LOANED into existence. Only banks have the power to print money, cash or virtual. When a bank makes a loan, it creates an account or places $$ into a current account. Principal is that amount. Interest is never created, but must be paid from existing principal. This creates a never ending cycle of absent money, except…that every bank is allowed to loan 10X for every dollar it has on deposit. This is called fractional reserve banking. This is also very inflationary. It signals to the market that there’s more money around and so you can charge more and more for a product or service. Printing in this nation is astronomical. This is why housing, health care, education, cars and anything else that most people BORROW for has ridiculous prices. This ensures a deficit of ability to ever pay anything off in full.

    The shysters all know this. They endorse it. As long as lemmings continue to be “credit worthy” then it keeps going on and on. Taxes live and thrive and expand because more and more money exists to be taxed.

    People wounder why there are billionaires. Easy, because there are billions and trillions of dollars in existence. If the money supply were never allowed to expand beyond a set amount (like a gold std), then markets would have to price according to the medium that makes it work. Pennies would never be stepped over, they would be picked up and rarely dropped.

    I have two jobs. One is cleaning up a shopping mall here in Boise. I pick up tons of coins from pennies to quarters. Back in 1968, those coins would buy me a whole bunch of things at any store, with change coming back.

    We need SOUND money and limited taxes for services we NEED.

  21. Sheldon of Idaho
    Dec 11, 2018, 6:25 pm

    I confess I worked at the State Tax Commission’s property tax division for twelve long years. During that time, I came to appreciate property tax. Here’s why:

    1. Property taxes are LOCAL taxes. They don’t get passed through the State legislature, or Washington D.C., they are collected locally and spent locally. And, for better or worse, they are based on a budget which is set locally. When budgets are set, you have the ability to get up and testify to your city council or county commissioners. You can probably even walk into their offices and pound your fist on their desks. Try that at the legislature or congress!

    2. Many commenters have talked about how as property values rise, taxes rise. Not so: if everyone’s property value (and assessment) rises at the same rate, and IF BUDGETS STAY THE SAME, property taxes would also stay the same. Of course, there are many exemptions that distort this picture, but many commenters are discussing BUDGET issues. And, in an effort to correct inequalities, there is a substantial homeowners’ exemption. Further, truly low-income seniors and disabled have the right to a “circuit breaker” exemption. If you deserve these exemptions, I sincerely hope you are claiming them.

    3. Property taxes give the city, the county, the schools, and the highways a dependable source of revenue–as opposed to sales and income taxes. I’m glad that the schools don’t lay off teachers when the economy takes a downturn.

    4. The worst part of property taxes is that they are collected in lump sums, for most people twice a year. That hurts, but it’s certainly more transparent than constantly collected sales and gas and (withheld) income taxes. Painful, but transparent.

    5. This country’s biggest problem is not income inequality, it is WEALTH inequality. And the only tax on which the 1% pay their fair share, is property tax.

    If you are unmoved by these arguments, take the following steps:

    1. When you receive your assessment notice next May, go online and look at all the details on your own home: square footage, year built, etc. If they are correct, great.

    2. At the same time, see what’s happening in your neighborhood. You can look at everybody’s data and assessed value. If your value seems in line with your neighbors’ values, at least things are probably fair.

    3. If the data seems right, but the value seems high, call or visit your appraiser. His/her phone number is on the assessment notice. Maybe they need to visit your house and see how decrepit your joint is!

    4. If you still aren’t happy with the assessor’s value, file an appeal. You can have your day in court with the county commissioners. But “my value’s too high” is not a good argument; you need data.

    5. You can even appeal the commissioners’ decision to the State Board of Tax Appeals. Check out their web site for more info.

    6. Oh yeah, you can go to court. But if we’re talking about residential values, the attorney costs of reducing your assessment will probably exceed the benefits.

    7. Now we’re at the good part: the BUDGETS of all the entities you pay taxes to. The city, the county, the highway district, the school district, the cemetery district, the mosquito abatement district–the list goes on and on. But they all have budget hearings, and they all must take testimony.

    I hope you folks don’t all hate me now. I’m just trying to reduce your pain!!!!!!!!

    EDITOR NOTE–Sheldon, many thanks for taking the time to educate us all. Good perspective.

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