February 18, 2005
Rationalizing property taxes
By Bill Kraus
What if instead of freezing property taxes or eferendizing property tax spending, we rationalized property taxes?
What if property taxes went only for that public spending that had to do with property? What if everyone who owned property paid for those public services with their property taxes? Would that add the missing element of logic to the frenzy to freeze, to the rush to referendi, to the almost universal urge to put a lid on this least loved tax?
Property taxes would be assessed to pay for obvious things like police and fire protection, water, sewer, streets, sidewalks, garbage collection, all those services that attend property ownership.
Some less vital but useful accoutrements like parks and similar property enhancements would be candidates for property tax assessments as well.
But that would be it. No schools. No social services. Nothing not property related. And no exemptions either. You own property. You pay property specific taxes. You're a charity? That's nice. You own property. You pay to keep it up. You also pay for the public services that attend property ownership.
This small, tentative step toward rationalizing this tax does raise a few questions, of course. Like how are we going to pay for non-property related public services and functions that property taxes pay for or help pay for now?
One thing at a time. If we can rationalize the property tax system first, we may even be able to make sensible decisions on how to pay for the other public services that our various governments provide.
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