This is why I blog!
In Minnesota, we have a process called "Truth in Taxation" hearings. These hearings are a chance for Joe Citizen to talk to the various taxing "authorities" to find out why his taxes are going up.
The Strib reports today on one Hennepin County residents run in with the "Truth in Taxation" process.
"Alarmed by a year-end tax statement projecting a 94 percent increase in 2006, Margaret Briarty, of Brooklyn Park, figured it had to be a mistake. So she called Hennepin County and City Hall, and attended her Truth in Taxation hearing."
Yes dear readers, that is correct a 94% increase in property taxes!
"For Briarty, her tax jump was caused primarily by her property's value, which rose from $153,300 in 2004 to $271,400 in 2005 -- a whopping 77 percent increase...
It's all about timing.
Current-year taxes, Rowe said, actually are based on values set on Jan. 2 of the previous year. And on Jan. 2, 2004, before she moved in, Rowe's townhouse was only partially completed -- thus the $153,300 value for 2005 taxes."
Did you catch that? Your property tax rate is based on what the value of a home was on January 2 of the year before regardless of whether the property is fully developed or not, whether you own it or not.
Now I live in an older neighborhood in a town where property values were a little high to start off with, but have skyrocketed in the last 5 years and we have (thankfully) not seen the drastic changes that Ms. Briarty has seen, but her said tale is yet another reminder why we need tax reform in this state. Not just income taxes (which is what most people think of when someone mentions tax reform) but property tax reform. Cities, counties, school districts all take a tax bite out of our pocketbooks, not just state and federal. All taxing bodies need to be held accountable to the people that they represent. Unfortunately, these taxing bodies will continue to live by their own entrenched set of rules until such time as the citizenry rises up and demands accountability.
That dear readers is why I do this. It is my hope that, by continuing to point out problems like this I can engage my friends and neighbors to get involved in the system and to get them to demand accountability from their elected officials at every level.