Wednesday, April 5, 2006

What is "Truth"?

The Providence Journal had a report on Wednesday, April 5, 2006, that property taxes on commercial property in Providence were among the highest in the nation.

The data comes from RIPEC, Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council, so we know the statement is accurate - the "truth".

But take a moment to peel away the surface. Property taxes are levied on the value of property. It is possible, even likely, that after a revaluation, properties do not change in value evenly - some go up a lot while others will increase in value just a little.

Under these conditions some property owners receive much greater increases than others, and some might even see their taxes go down after a revaluation. And this is even more likely with residential property.

Just as we Americans consume more food than any other nation, no one can deny the serious issue of hunger in our country. Distribution is a more critical part of the issue. We simply ignore this when it comes to local tax distribution.

In the same way, while the total tax revenue from commercial property is clearly too high, some property owners might actually be paying lower taxes and thus not paying their fair share, while others shoulder a disproportionate amount of the tax burden; in other words, the distribution is the more important problem.

If we make our tax decisions based only on the most aggrieved segment of the population and ignore the distribution of tax burdens, many will be hurt, needlessly.

There is much more to the property tax story than the simple "truth".

A visit to our website might help to explain this more and what we can do about it.

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