The Tyranny of Property Taxes
July 19, 2012 in Uncategorized
THE TYRANNY OF PROPERTY TAX
I live in Connecticut and I’m presently renting. The property values, since the crash of 2008, have dropped on average around 35% and in some cases much more, so my wife and I decided it might be a good time to buy a home.
As I perused the various listings of homes in the surrounding towns, I noticed the property taxes haven’t dropped to reflect the drop in the housing market. So, I called around to the various town tax assessors’ offices to see if the taxes would be adjusted downward to reflect the dramatic drop in the housing market.
I was told that the dollar value of the homes’ assessments would go down but not the taxes. ‘How could this be possible?” I asked. “If the value of the property has gone down, the taxes should go down.”
I was told by every mind numbed bureaucrat that I spoke to that the town government needed the money to meet their budget demands, and they would get the taxes simply by increasing the mill rate.
“That’s a scam,” I said to every assessor I spoke with. “You’re just manipulating numbers in order to get the result you want – higher taxes!” I was met with silence.
One home I was considering had been on the market for 338,000.00. After the housing crash it dropped in value to $169,000.00. That’s a drop of 50%. One would think that the taxes would drop by 50% as well, commensurate with the drop of value, but no – I was told the taxes would, if anything, remain the same, but they would not go down.
I said “If the town just increases the taxes every year and never adjusts or lowers the taxes to coincide with the drop of home values, eventually the town will own all the homes.” Again, the sound of silence. And then I said, “Maybe that’s your plan,” which of course it has to be if the tax trajectory only goes in one direction, up!
The question is why won’t the town lower property taxes? Answer: Because they wouldn’t be able to pay 6 figure salaries to government employees. In the town I live in, where there is virtually no crime, 6 police officers make over $100,000.00 and the police chief earns $126,000.00 And it doesn’t stop there. These figures don’t even take into account their benefits, including generous pensions.
Moreover, the school systems superintendents earn over $244,420.00. (How much does the President of the United States make?) And the Assistant Superintendent earns $180,000.00. That’s a lot of money for an assistant, don’t you think? An English teacher earns $126,000.00 and a reading teacher earns over $112,000.00. There are an additional 20 school positions that pay over $100,000.00 a year in salary, and again, this does not take into account pensions.
But hey, if the taxpayers aren’t going to object and stop these ever escalating property taxes, the taxes will continue to go up, as will the large bloated salaries. ‘Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely.’ But at some point the game will end because the government will have taken so much from the taxpayer that the taxpayer will not be able to pay and will be forced to move, let us say to Montana, where property taxes are low and the radar for government tyranny is set on high.
Finally the notion of home ownership is a fable. In fact, the town owns your home, even when the mortgage is paid. If you don’t think that’s true, try not paying your property taxes. When the point comes when you can’t pay it the town will simply confiscate your home and leave you homeless, perhaps living in your car. But wait a minute, there’s property taxes on your car too!
But there is some recourse, citizens can challenge their property tax assessments and in many cases, they can even take their challenge as far as the Supreme Court in their respective states. As it stands now, less than 5% of citizens even launch a challenge to their property tax assessments, which is a fairly pathetic portrayal of where we are in respect to actual citizen outrage.