Thursday, 20 January 2011 by David H. LeVan
Over the holidays, I witnessed a family trying to make a flight at DFW airport. Even with the speed train (sky link) it didn’t appear that they would make the flight. Being a frequent flier I have witnessed this before (and unfortunately even experienced it). The problem was the father, who decided to let his stress affect the whole family…. and quite frankly, everyone else on the train. You could just feel his anger as he marched back and forth and spoke harshly. Since we were all there, we got to hear the whole story… multiple times. It was quite awkward! The family apparently had not flown in awhile and was not prepared to spend a little more time in security than, say 10 years ago (and according to the way he was acting, this was all someone else’s fault). The result was that they were now going to miss their flight.
I can’t help but think about the stress so many property tax departments feel during the tax season. We all know that tax season can be stressful (much like flying). That fact is not always something we control. What we can control is how prepared we are to face it. So… what have you done to prepare for the property tax compliance season this year? What enhancements are you making to your process? See what other proactive changes you can make by taking the PropTax Assessment™.
Tuesday, 04 January 2011 by David H. LeVan
We know that property taxes are based on value….so why have they continued to increase while values have plummeted? Is this an unprecedented time for property taxes? To answer this question, I looked into the status of property taxes around the time of the Great Depression (the one from the 1930s).
Leading up to the 1930s the economy was strong and many assessors had a tradition of repeating or slightly increasing their assessment rolls from year to year. That worked fine until the Depression hit and values dropped but tax bills did not. Some taxpayers even saw increases in their taxes! The housing market slowed (people started crowding into one house) and students staying in schools longer because there was no work. People got fed up and protested. In 1932, property owner’s associations throughout the nation started to threaten local officials with tax strikes. Tens of thousands of taxpayers simply didn’t pay their bills. Property tax protests made headlines throughout the nation, prompting more protests.
This turn of events led to property tax reform, limiting local government spending and shifting some of the property tax burden to other state taxes. It led to more counties assessing properties owned by public utilities and implementing homestead exemptions. From 1932-1933 sixteen states voted to implement property tax limitations. Some of these limitations included, the extinction of property taxes on intangible property, creation of exemptions for the sick, poor, elderly, farmers and homesteads, and “circuit breakers” to limit the percentage of income one would pay on property tax.
Does any of this sound vaguely familiar? It seems that history has a way of repeating itself, even in property taxes. Eighty years from now, I wonder what they’ll say about the property tax reforms that came out of this economic downturn.