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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!


KsTwister 8 years, 10 months ago

I certainly hope you took into account that property taxes,state taxes,county taxes,school taxes,monthly taxes to utilities and sales taxes are also included with that tab. Adds up doesn't it; so from single families viewpoint their thousands of dollars for taxes isn't buying much to live on these days. Still they are treated like the bankers for city government that cannot live within it's means ---something they cannot do.

djeyler 8 years, 10 months ago

Take a moment to look at Proposition K. This is property tax reform written by Dr. Art Hall, executive director center for applied economics at the university of kansas. Propisition K is starting to get a look in the legislature in Topeka.

George Lippencott 8 years, 10 months ago

In response to max1 (Anonymous):

You are sooo right! The report I critiqued was generated for the City Commission a number of years back. It was referenced by those who want to raise you property taxes as justification to do so last year. I commented to the Commissioners at that time. I suspect pressure to raise our taxes again this year so I am addressing the report now in the hopes that those paying the bills will take note of the misinformation out there that is used to tax them. You can find the report on the City's web-site.

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