The Property Tax Model is Broken Beyond Repair

Let’s be honest. The system of collecting taxes for county, city, and school taxes is broken. And the larger the area dependent on funding from property taxes, the more broken it becomes. North Fulton County residents pay tremendously more for the same county services than South Fulton residents.  Why?

Here are three reasons it needs to be scrapped:

  1. There is no correlation between the amount of taxes you pay and the amount of “services” you receive.

A family of six living in a $500,000 home and a family of two living in a $500,000 home, pay the same property taxes if they live in the same community.  Why?  What makes us feel its fair to collect three times as much tax on a per capita basis from one family than another?  What if the family of two lives in a home worth one million?  What makes it right to collect six times as much for the very same levels of services?  Should I mention that the family of six likely creates more demand for services than the family of two as well?

When property values are high, and tax rates are high, this can have the effect of driving out empty nester residents to avoid the high levels of taxes relative to the services they receive for those tax dollars.

2.  Property values rising(and falling) should have no impact on how much tax revenue is needed to run your county, cities, and schools.

We’ve seen property values fall during recessions and rise during better times.  This should have nothing to do with how many dollars are needed to provide services in your community.  Yet we have made the tax digest the first step in the taxation process, followed by each government agency voting on the millage rate to be applied to that tax digest.  Elected officials vote far more often on how much they will tax you than you have a chance to vote on whether or not they should remain in office.

Let’s add to that the huge infrastructure we now have in place at the Tax Assessor’s office to track every piece of property, every structure, and every improvement you make to your home, all in the effort to make sure every $ of real estate(real or imagined) is taxed.

Why on earth should you owe the government more dollars because you decided to finish your basement or add a deck?

The perverseness of this likely discourages residents from making improvements to their properties.

How much time and energy is used by the Tax Assessor’s office to gather all of this information?  How accurate is it?  Is it worth it?  Who is really benefitting?

3.  How many hours of effort will the Public spend appealing these assessments?

If 1/4 of the households in Johns Creek appeal, that could be as high as 7,000 homes.  Spend five hours on this process, and cumulatively we will have spent 35,000 hours fighting our high assessments.

Instead, why don’t we take a moment and consider a different system?  We do not tax each resident within an HOA a variable amount do we?  It’s a flat rate per household.  While not necessarily the same on a per capita basis, it is a fairer system than taxing each household based upon the value of their property.

What would a fixed property tax collected per residence look like?  First, it would treat all of us as equally as possible.

We would not need an army of government employees tracking our properties, needing to know everything about the inside and outside of our homes.

We would never have to appeal property taxes in the future.

Our governments would be accountable to us directly for the rate of taxation we face, and there would be no finger-pointing as to who is to blame.

The current system of taxation has more expensive property owners subsidizing the less expensive property owners.  In a society where wealth redistribution is frowned upon by most of us, it is curious to me why we are so willing to allow tax redistribution with property taxes, where the level of services received are so far removed from what the property owner pays in taxes.

Johns Creek could lead the way to a better model of taxation for its residents.  It’s time we slay the beast that taxation based on property values has become.   Taxation should not be unfair or onerous.

It’s time for a change.  Contact your locally elected officials and tell them you want a different system.  Tell them you want a better, more equitable system.

 

6 Responses to The Property Tax Model is Broken Beyond Repair

  1. EJ Moosa says:

    Fulton County Tax Accessors will not be rolling back the assessments or freezing assessments.

    Residents of Fulton County MUST demand that the rollback rate be implemented for county, school and city property taxes.

    Government officials will argue that the appeals process will reduce property taxes, and they will then possibly receive less revenue.

    Too damn bad. It’s time that these governments err on behalf of the residents rather than on behalf of government.

    File you appeals. Then demand the roll back rate. This is up to you, people. We need to take back control.

  2. Stephanie Endres says:

    Please file your appeal!! The Fulton County Board of Tax Assessors voted 4-1 to NOT rescind property tax assessments. We learned at Commissioner Hausmann’s town hall last night that if more 8% of the assessments are appealed it will trigger a rescind.

    Also, for those whose tax assessments were supposed to be frozen due to a prior year appeal settlement, the Chief Appraiser admitted to making this decision for all to unfreeze and has now been given legal advice that he legally was NOT allowed to do that. So all the frozen appeals are supposed to refrozen Please contact him directly at:

    Dwight Robinson, Chief Appraiser
    (404) 612-3352
    Dwight.Robinson@fultoncountyga.gov

  3. John Bradberry says:

    EJ, it seems that the government attitude at every level is “How much tax will they tolerate before getting defiant?” vs. “What is the amount of tax necessary to provide the fundamental tasks of the government?”

  4. Anonymous says:

    I agree the property tax model is broken. However, on this site, some were advocating a property tax increase vs TSPLOST, due to property taxes being tax deducible for those who itemize and for more local control. It was never a choice, but on this site, some suggested that as an alternative to sales tax increase. I actually like TSPLOST since you can control to some degree what county you do your shopping and you can have visitors also contribute when they purchase. However, when TSPLOST was being debated, some suggested property taxes increase instead of sales tax. This shows how difficult to reach an agreement it can be since now we are debating on how broken property tax model is.

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