Wednesday, June 7, 2006

Sex and Taxes

Property taxes are all over the news again, or more correctly, still. Everyone is trying to bring relief to the beleaguered property owner, as well they should. Our collective property taxes in Rhode Island are way too high.

The goal of the lawmaker is to receive credit for lowering those taxes while permitting towns to continue providing needed services. The one who does that will be hailed as a real hero and is assured a prominent place in the Legislators' Hall of Fame. It's 'sexy'.

Sad to say that the real answer is a very unsexy, practical, boring one. We need to make the distribution of property taxes fair before we make them lower. Any tax increase, no matter how small, will be unfair as long as there will be those who pay increases based on the increased market value of their property, which often is anything but small.

The market price of property is not unlike prices in any market, the stock market for example. It is what buyers are willing to pay and is simply a gamble. True, we expect the dice not to be loaded and the market value (assessment) to be honest and accurate. But why should gambling have anything to do with the taxes we pay simply to live in our communities?

Nothing. Not one thing.

But maybe that's just me.

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