Letters: Need for property tax reform
Property tax has become a contentious issue. But it hasn't always been that way. In the beginning it was a tax on land only. The concept of the original property tax was that land could produce income. It was a de facto income tax. However, when the politicians started taxing homes, the original concept was compromised and the controversy started because our homes do not produce income.
Anybody who opposes a reform to our property tax that has evolved beyond recognition from the original concept, are misled by the culture that property taxes are the most stable tax. Yes, property taxes are stable. But that stability is not due to the fact that property values are used as the tax base. The stability is achieved by the change in levy the local governments can make. If another tax base was used, the local governments could achieve the same stability by a levy on that tax base just as they do now.
Our property values and personal income have followed the same curve. One can verify that with the Minnesota Department of Revenue. Therefore, there is no reason why our property tax should not be reformed based on household income. That would restore the integrity and end the controversy.
There is no reason for the local governments to fear that their revenue stream would be decreased. It would be the opposite because the state would save over a billion dollars every budget cycle and therefore could increase the Local Government Aid by that much. The savings would be from all the unnecessary aid the state pays in property tax refunds.
The skeptics may oppose a property tax reform. But before anyone closes his/her mind to a reform, they must consider the overwhelming evidence that our property tax is unfair. Why else would we need "boards of adjustment" and the state spending over a billion dollars in every budget to mitigate the aggrieved. And, everyone has the threat of losing their home if financial disaster strikes.
If our property tax was reformed based on household income, we would be paying our fair share to start with and no state aid would be needed for anybody. It would be restored to its original integrity and at the same time we would have eliminated the threat of losing our homes.
Juris Curiskis, Minneapolis