OMG! Property Taxes!!!!

OK, let’s all take a look at this

“I’m at the breaking point,” said Gretchen Gardner, an Austin artist who bought a 1930s bungalow in the Bouldin neighborhood just south of downtown in 1991 and has watched her property tax bill soar to $8,500 this year.

The arrival of this year’s appraisal notices — which in Travis County showed homes’ average market values jumped 12.6 percent and average taxable values rose 8 percent for 2014 — is sparking a push for reform.

First off, I have nothing but sympathy for someone who bought a house for, I’m guessing, $70,000 which is now worth probably around $700,000. It’s difficult not to feel bad for someone whose investment is up more than 1000%. But, let’s at least try to look at things rationally and realize that all in all, the homeowner has done pretty well, certainly better than the poor schmuck who put money into a DJIA index fund in 1991. We’ll come back to this in a bit (and trust me, though it may sound like I don’t, I really do have a lot of sympathy for Ms. Gardner… stay with me).

Now, the second part of the quote is the far more revealing one… y’all don’t seem to get that TAX value is rising LESS rapidly than market value (a little less than 2/3 of the increase in market value is being assessed). Plus, the value the county places on your home is LESS than what it’s actually worth. The County, for instance, has Ms. Gardner’s home appraised for $650,000 when it’s really worth north of $700,000. The TAC, to be quite honest, is doing y’all a favor.

As for solutions, THIS is suggested…

A key problem, critics say, is that the current system has shifted a disproportionate share of the burden of paying for schools and local services on homeowners, in favor of commercial and corporate interests who can afford to appeal their values and win big reductions year after year. The share of property taxes from homeowners to support public schools grew from 45 percent to 54 percent over a 12-year period, while commercial and industrial owners’ share has declined to less than 20 percent. (Other sectors, from oil and gas to personal property, make up the rest.)

Brigid Shea, who is running for County Commissioner, is one of the people bleating on about commercial property taxes. Here’s the thing…even if you do something to increase their assessment and drop the assessment on residences, it doesn’t change the values which are continuing to climb which means we’re going to be right back here in two or three years. What’s more likely, since we’ve been shortchanging critical needs for damn near a decade, is that Legislature will act to increase collection on commercial and do little to help homeowners because they’re going to need the money to pay for things like infrastructure and education.

To be honest, I really wish I’d listened to Shea more in the primary because this is a dumbfuck idea that ignores the real issue… and that’s where we get back to Ms. Gardner.

I do understand that just because the value of the house is high, it doesn’t mean that income has risen and therein lies the problem with how we fund the government. When the property tax system was implemented, most Texans made their living from the land. That’s not been true for a really long time which brings me to the only solution that will fix this mess, a state income tax. That’s the only way we can fund the government equitably and give homeowners some real relief. Everything else is a Band Aid at best.

Yeah, I know no one wants to talk about or hear it. However, it’s time for the people of this state to grow the fuck up.

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