If you’ve followed The Minuteman for some time now, then you know that we’re not fans of the horrendous violation of personal Liberty known as the property tax. To me, this tax is the most heinous, egregious, and immoral means the government uses to extract money from its citizens. The fact that in 2018 we still allow it to exist is an indictment on us. Especially here in North Dakota. Why? Because we could end it. All we need is the moral fortitude to do so. So, with that, I want to share just a few reasons I support the elimination of property taxes.
- We deserve to truly own our homes. Quite frankly, the list should end here. Is there a better reason to eliminate the property tax than the fact that the property is supposed to be ours in the first place? Twist it however you’d like. Convince yourself it’s a “necessary evil” (it’s not). But so long as you and I have to pay the government to keep the local sheriff from removing us from “our” property, then we don’t own it. Period. Have you ever lost property for inability to pay? My family has. I’ll spare you the details. But I will say this… you’ll never forget it if it happens to you.
- It puts the family first, not the government. The family is the basic unit of society. Our society will only be as healthy has our families. Imagine if families could improve their homes and properties without fear of being dinged for it on a property tax bill. Think of it– as it stands now, if you make improvements, your assessment goes up. And this typically means your tax bill goes up along with it. It’s one of the most outlandish and insane realities that exist in the property tax structure. It does little or nothing to contribute to the quality of life for the family– whether it’s their style of living or their budget.
- The cronyism of property tax entitlements will end. Some years ago, I attended a city meeting in which a national business chain was coming to town. While the representatives of the business admitted they were coming to town regardless of any property tax “incentives”, the city council voted to give them anyhow– five years worth. Of course, everyone else in town still had to pay. Eliminating property taxes also means the elimination of Renaissance Zones, Tax Increment Finance Districts, and Property Tax Abatements. Picking winners and losers is eliminated along with them.
- Eliminating cronyism would still result in a permanent incentive for businesses to operate in North Dakota. Imagine if businesses were making decisions about where to set up shop. If North Dakota wasn’t on the radar before, it likely would be now. And if it already was on the radar, I believe the lure of no property tax would make our state a front runner on the list of possibilities. This would mean new businesses– which also means a more diverse economy, new jobs, and overall growth for the state.
- The finger pointing between state and local governments on the issue of property tax would end. It’s no secret that our state and local representatives like to point the finger of blame at each other. Go to a local tax equalization meeting– “The state made us do it.” Contact the legislature– “Property tax is a local issue.” It’s a frustrating framework and one that typically doesn’t result in lower taxes for property “owners”.
These are just some of the reasons to support the elimination of property taxes. There’s others.
And isn’t it fascinating that one of the leading reasons for opposition to the proposed ballot measure to abolish property taxes in 2012 was the old question, “How are we going to replace it?” People act as though our state government has no experience with formula’s and disbursement of funds. This simply isn’t true– especially in 2018.
Our K-12 education system is funded through the use of a formula. And according to a recently released document for the Interim Government Finance Committee, it’s now at a level of about 73% from the state. Yes, our children are still getting an education with nearly 3/4ths of the funding coming from sources other than property taxes.
And what about the state takeover of social services last Legislative Session? That was achieved with bipartisan support.
And these are just two examples.
Now, I’m not saying that I agree with the amount of spending that’s taken place in K-12 and social services. I don’t. But it’s obvious that the Legislature is perfectly capable of developing formula’s and dispersing money. So, let’s not pretend that children will go uneducated, people will lie dead in the streets, or that the sky will fall.
Property taxes are not fixable. That has been proven to us time and time again. The most effective way to solve the property tax mess is to eliminate it. Period.