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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Property Tax Pinch

The Wall Street Journal has an excellent article today (“High Property Taxes Spark Outcry” by Amy Merrick) that sums up the backlash growing across the nation against high property taxes, especially in light of falling real-estate prices and the mortgage mess.

The piece notes a reaction in Indiana where voters booted out a sitting mayor in Indianapolis. In January, Florida voters will weigh in on a property-tax measure. In November, Washington lawmakers reinstated a property tax cap.

And California is in what Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has deemed to be a “fiscal emergency.” Though it apparently is not enough of an emergency to stop the Governor-ator from agreeing to a big government health care scheme that would jack up tobacco taxes, and impose a payroll tax on businesses with rates as high as 6.5%.

One paragraph from the Journal’s story sums up pretty well the problem on the property tax front: “State and local property-tax collections increased 50% from 2000-06, according to Census Bureau data. During the same time period, the median household income rose 15%, before adjustment for inflation.”


But as the issue goes forward, let’s hope that businesses get in on any relief that might be provided. Too often, the property tax debate focuses only on residential properties. Unfortunately, in many places across the nation, high nonresidential or commercial property taxes wallop the bottom lines of businesses, and result in less investment, less job creation, and less economic growth.

Property tax relief is needed for both residential households and businesses.

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