End property taxes, forget reassessment
THE FOLLOWING EDITORIAL APPEARED IN TODAY'S READING EAGLE NEWSPAPER, READING, PENNSYLVANIA.
THE STOP MESSAGE IS GETTING THROUGH SLOW BUT SURE AND MOMENTUM IS BUILDING FOR TOTAL ABOLISHMENT OF ALL PROPERTY TAXES ON PRIMARY RESIDENCES. PLEASE SEND THIS EDITORIAL TO EVERY PENNSYLVANIAN YOU CAN, INCLUDING YOUR LOCAL NEWSPAPER EDITOR, YOUR LEGISLATORS, YOUR COUNTY AND MUNICIPAL OFFICIALS.
August 10, 2007
End property taxes, forget reassessment
The Issue: A Richmond Township man has filed suit in an attempt to force the Berks County commissioners to order a countywide reassessment to make property taxes more equitable.
Our Opinion: Inequities always develop with property taxes. The best way to avoid those inequities is to eliminate property taxes.
One of the inherent problems with the property tax — regardless of whether it is used to fund schools or municipal governments — is that it never can be levied fairly.
The moment that every property within a particular taxing body is assessed on the same standard, one of those properties is reassessed as a result of an improvement or some other factor.
Over the years long-time homeowners who have made no major upgrades see their properties assessed at a much lower rate than a similar residence down the block or across town.
And then there is the problem of new homes, which are assessed more or less on their sale price, which usually is much higher than what some had paid for a similar property 10 or 20 years ago.
Ultimately what winds up happening is that those people who buy newly built homes and those who have made renovations wind up with higher assessments than those who bought their homes decades earlier. And those higher assessments mean greater tax bills, even if the properties are worth the same and taxed at the same rate.
It is not always the case, but more often than not this results in younger families, often first-time buyers, paying more than their share in taxes, while older, long-time homeowners pay less than their share.
Some counties have attempted to make their property taxes more equitable through regular — and costly — countywide reassessments. That way the range of property values doesn’t get too far out of line from one revaluation to the next.
Berks County, for whatever reason, never has been one of those counties. In fact the last — and only — countywide reassessment in Berks took place in 1994. At that time some property owners who purchased their homes 40 years earlier had their assessments based on the $15,000 they paid for the properties, while a neighbor, who had bought a similar property in 1990, had his assessment based on a purchase price that was 10 times $15,000.
Similar inequities have been allowed to develop during the last 13 years as real estate prices, especially in the suburban and rural sections of Berks, have soared. Nevertheless the county commissioners have been reluctant to even consider another countywide reassessment.
They believe it would hurt too many property owners who have seen the value of their properties rise dramatically since 1994.
That is why J. Garth Swartley, who built a house last year on an 18-acre tract in Richmond Township, is suing to force a reassessment. He is on the high side of that inequity, and he doesn’t think it is fair.
Meanwhile those on the low side of the inequity — many of them retired — don’t want to see their assessments and taxes increased so that Swartley and others can get a break.
There is no doubt the inequity exists, and where one stands on the issue more than likely reflects how long he or she has owned his or her home.
But the answer is not a reassessment. That only will start the cycle over again, and the problem will recur in another 10 to 15 years.
The answer is the elimination of the property tax, replaced by a more equitable combination of taxes, the most prominent of which would be the income tax.
Under such a system, the more you make, the more you pay, and you don’t have to worry that inflated real estate prices some day will pit neighbor against neighbor during another reassessment.
- Carl F. Miller says :
- August 10, 2007
Most of what is stated in this article is correct; espcially what is stated about inequities in assessments. What may be a little misleading; and potentially very disastrous, is the assumption that an "income tax" would be a more fairer way of funding government services. I do not think it would! In fact, I believe it would prove to be an even more onerous scheme in the long run.
It's clear that politicians are not going to take any type measures to eliminate much of the wasteful and needless spending in which they enjoy engaging. "They are determined to "SPEND" money; on anything they can think of spending it on." That's their bailiwick! That's their main tool in "Gaining re-election." They have little else to offer the citizens!
As it stand now, schoolboards, counties, cities, boroughs and townships, when they think more money is needed to fund their idiosyncrasies; simply impose more taxes on you. They do not possess the intelligence to do otherwise; nor do I forsee any chances that they will obtain that intelligence in the near future!
While the imposition of an income tax may appear at the moment to be a plausible solution to the property tax scheme, in reality, it is nothing more than a surreptitious scheme to further fleece unsuspecting citizens; especially those citizens who are "achievers."
Picture, if you can, the time when your local yokels say they need more money for this or for that, but don't have enough money. Under a system of taxes on your income, all they need do is raise the percentage of your income they will take from you. Where it will stop is anybody's guess! It will be the identical situation in which you are now in; especially with schoolboards---they will simply take more of your hardearned monies in the form of income taxes to fund their personal silliness. Who would be so naive as to put their trust in such individuals? Not Me!
For me, I believe that ANY INCREASE, in ANY MATTER, regarding the "TAKING" of more and more of my money should be left to the judgment of a majority of the citizens in each respective muncipality; period! Citisens, AND NOT elected or appointed politicians, should be the final deciders of how much of thier monies, and on what services, and in what manner, those monies are to be spent. Only then will you be able to place some semblance of trust in a system that has been destroying, and is continuing to destroy the lives of thousands of Pennsylvanians! It's Time!
Carl F. Miller
- Anonymous says :
- The one comment I disagree with from the first article is that people who have purchased new homes are looking for a tax "break". I am perfectly happy paying my fair share of taxes, if it stays the same after a re-assessment so be it. I live in a $400 - $450,000 home in Boyertown and pay around $9,000 in taxes. $9,000 in Boyertown, that's the equivelant to a $800,000 home in most of the surrounding counties! Recent sales of older homes for that approximate sales price have taxes around $4,500. In addition, new construction is adding tax revenue, the vacant land my house is now on only collected about $500 a year in taxes, so why kill me with the 9th highest tax burden in my township? Because they can!!
- Joe Lehigh County: 9-01-07 says :
- On 8-09-07 I contacted Senator Patrick Browne's and Representative Carl Mantz's Offices (refer to Article #133, comments). I asked a simple Question. Do you support the STOP Plan? Three weeks have passed without a return call. Patrick and Carl, you have lost my vote. Now, That was Easy!
- Jim Chett says :
- The fact that there are only three comments on the Reading Eagle's editorial is testament to the apathy of our citizens.
The current scheme for taxing our properties is unfair, outdated, and onerous.
The Eagle has long advocated income tax as the fairest means to fund schools and counties.
Renters, young families, the poor, and retirees would pay according to their means. Those with high incomes would pay more...and that is the rub, for it is this group who fund the PAC and other contributions to our politicians.
Unless enough people care enough to contact their representatives with the message, "Eliminate our Property Taxes", nothing will occur.
- Anonymous says :
- is there anybody running for president that whats to get rid of property tax
- J. Garth Swartley says :
- I want to clarify some items that have been attributed to my name in letters to the Reading Eagle.
The suit against Berks County was not filed with the goal of forcing a countywide reassessment. The suit was filed to address an inequity in my situation with the Clean and Green provisions. A consequence of the suit is that it may force the county to consider reassessment. However, that is not a forgone conclusion.
Similar to the Reading Eagle, I do not believe a countywide reassessment is the appropriate solution to the property-tax issue. I believe true tax reform, such as the School Tax Elimination Act proposed by state Rep. Samuel Rohrer, is a better solution and equitable to all. Better yet would be the complete elimination of property taxes.
- Anonymous says :
- will S.T.O.P. have any effect for N.C. ?
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