If Property Taxes Weren’t Already Theft

Our 2014 property tax assessment valued our home and land at ~$121K in 2015. In 2015 the tax commissioner’s office decided it was worth ~$157K.

Since we plan to move, it might have been nice to see our home’s value appreciate by nearly 30%. But the fact that it was not an actual buyer made the whole thing suspect – especially since tax assessments have consistently been a little below market value over the 20 or so years I’ve owned property in this county.

So, I appealed the assessment and received a figurative bitch slap in response: the tax assessors increased the increase. To nearly 37%. That’ll teach me to question my benevolent overlords, right?

If a group of citizens gathers together and decides to tax itself for certain purposes, I suppose property taxes could provide a somewhat more fair way of raising money than other taxes. But the reality of the system in our county and most other places across the US is very much removed from the citizenry.

The question of the appropriateness of property tax aside, how is it fair to buy a home at a price you can afford, then later be taxed on an arbitrary valuation you haven’t realized? That the property is worth a certain amount can only be proven when a buyer pays that amount in exchange for the property. 

There’s a conflict of interest when a government determines property values, then demands payment based on that value.

Parting thought: If your property can be taken from you when you cannot or will not pay the county, who really owns “your” property?

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