A dispute between the Office of Tax and Revenue and several communities in DC over property tax rates had another small milestone today.
"I describe a lot of what’s going on around the country as sticker
shock," said Wayne A. Tenenbaum, a property tax lawyer and former
assessor from Kansas City, Mo., who sits on the legal committee of the
International Association of Assessing Officers. "Here in Jackson
County [Mo.], for the first time in 10 years, they revalued the
high-value residential properties, and some went up 200 to 300 percent.
People were calling, saying: ‘You got to help me. It’s terrible. I
can’t afford the taxes.’ " Link to WP story
Honestly, this isn’t about the methodology DC uses to assess property taxes, it’s about the concept of property taxes as a state revenue tool. It’s just a bad way of raising money. Rising tax assessments basically eat away at the livelihoods of senior citizens and the middle and lower class, making it harder to stay in their own homes. Furthermore, when prices fall, people simply sit on their homes. It isn’t worth it to them to sell, and so unlike a commodity with liquidity, you no longer know what a house will sell for, because there’s not enough data.
During such an event, I suspect we’ll all continue to get tax bills at the previous year’s rate, which also isn’t an accurate reflection of what the house is worth. Ugh.