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Property Tax Scofflaws
During one of our “we need more tax money” drills recently, the proponents dusted off an old report that suggests that single family home owners do not pay their fair share in property taxes. How one goes about determining such matters is quite tricky. Exactly who benefits from government expenditures and who pays them. I will explore the first of these questions here- the second is deferred to another blog.
What the report did is to assume that each of us benefited equally from our city’s expenditures. On the surface that would seem quite accurate when it comes to services such as police, fire, roads and the like. But that hardly accounts for all our expenditures. There are services where assigning benefits is more problematic. Not everyone uses our recreations facilities. Not everyone agrees with our public assistance approach. Some funds come with specific earmarks for certain groups or areas of the city. Claiming that we all benefit equally from these expenditures is quite a stretch.
In fact it tantamount to telling people who strongly believe in limited government services that they are beneficiaries from the very services they do not use or want. That would seem to be a self fulfilling justification for endless services. It is just plain wrong and smells of a politically dictated conclusion. A more reasoned and thorough examination would likely reveal that a significant amount of our city’s expenditures are focused on a more limited subset of our citizens.
The report basically assumes away the very difficult challenge of determining beneficiaries of public expenditures with a broad brush pronouncement of a broadly defined “common good! No rational public policy decisions can possibly be made based on that document – it simply assumes away the challenge!