Property Tax and Fairness

Using the word tax and fairness in the same sentence is an oxymoron of sorts. Taxes were brought in, initially, as a temporay measure, to help pay for war time expenses. It has now been over 50 years and the taxes keep increasing in amount and type, rather than being abolished. The tax grab feeds like a wild fire. It is ever increasing just because there is more grass to burn not because the fire is creating more benefits for the landowner.

A case in point, I had a visitor the other day from the property assessment office. It turns out that homes in the area are selling for more money than what they are valued at and the inspector wanted to see why the assessment office had the houses on the street so UNDERVALUED!

Property taxes are theoretically intended to be used for maintaining services for all in the area, including roads, water, sewage, garbage an so on. Since there is no water service or sewage disposal to my house and I am car sick every time I drive to and from my house on the very uneven roads servicing the area, the only thing I am really paying for is garbage pick up. Oh, I almost forgot that the municipality also does the occasional snow plowing of the road in the winter (2 x in the 2006-2007 winter).

I pointed these deficiencies out to the assessment officer but it did not phase him. I therefore asked if my garbage pick-up was being improved with my increase in taxes (tongue in cheek). He did not seem amused. In vain I asked what the property tax was based on then, if it is not tied to the accountability of the municipality providing improved service with the extra money which they would ultimately collect. His answer was that property taxes are based solely on the purchase price of the houses on the street.

In business, someones salary increase is based on performance and in some cases number of sales of a product not on the amount of percent the price increase of the sale item. Is it therefore “fair” for property taxes to be based solely on the dollar value of the purchase price of the land or house and in no way be influenced by the services the municipality renders you as the tax payer?

The word “fairness” can not be used to describe taxes.