Resident thinks property tax just another tax on income
To the Editor:
What the county calls a “property tax” is not a tax on property. It is a tax on income.
I do not sell my property in order to pay my property tax. Even if I could afford to do so annually, I wouldn’t, because I like where I live. I cannot sell a corner of my lot to satisfy the tax levy, nor can I lease a bit of attic space to the county in order to pay the tax bill. I pay my property tax out of my income. Everyone does. Thus, the “property tax” is really just another tax on income.
This particular income tax is loosely progressive, and then only when the taxpayer is in his earning years. The middle-aged executive generally owns a much larger house – and pays a much higher tax – than a young couple fresh from school in their first house. In this respect the property tax is loosely progressive.
But when the homeowner retires and goes on a fixed income, the tax becomes regressive, meaning that the less you earn, the more you pay, as a percentage of your income. Over time, the increase in value of a property generally exceeds the increase in cost of living adjustments to retirement income. The retired property owner is squeezed.
No political party in this country supports a regressive income tax, because it is universally recognized as unfair. The Democrats reject it, the Republicans reject it. Even Fidel Castro rejects it. But there is one democratically elected body in Morgan County that thinks the regressive income tax fair for our seniors, and that is the Board of Education.
At the November 10, 2008 Board of Education meeting, Mr. Lance Pailer addressed the Board, and requested its support for a constitutional amendment that would cap property valuations (for the purpose of raising revenue for school systems statewide) for retirees. He was NOT asking that senior citizens be exempt from paying property taxes to the Board of Education, but only that the assessments on which the taxes are calculated be capped for retirees.
In other words, he was asking that the regressive nature of this tax be removed. Nothing more.
At the December meeting, we learned that support from the Morgan County Board of Education for this amendment would not be forthcoming. The Board was given the opportunity to support removing the regressive nature of the tax, and they chose not to do so.
This, my senior citizen friends, is worth remembering in November, when we are asked by the Board of Education to vote to continue to impose a 1% consumption tax on ourselves, in addition to the three income taxes and the one telephone Universal Service Fund tax we currently pay to support the school system. Repeal of the 1% ELOST will not completely make up for the regressive nature of the property tax, but it will undoubtedly help.
Be sure to tell everyone you know that ELOST IV deserves a “no” vote. Fairness demands it.
George L. Batten, Jr.