After responding to Marc Goldstone's message below, it occurred to me that simply sharing it with you all would help with coordination and understanding of where I truly believe we are headed. Simply marching on the Governor's mansion, given his recent near total lack of comprehension of our collective plight, may well not be near enough to insist upon and "demand" the taxation reforms we want. Reform not relief. Especially not tokenism relief so small it is an insult.
Marc Goldstone is the Arizonia Tax Revolt Chair. California and other State's interested groups are also being contacted, as well as our own coalition group leader members and selected members of our legislature. If you agree or disagree...as usual, please let me know your thoughts and opinions. I do not want to over step. D-Bell
As Marc says "D-Bell's group" is intrigued with the concept. And possibly - very likely ultimately the entire Utah Coalition from Washington County in the South to Cache County in the North will become very intrigued with the notion of playing "hardball" with Utah legislators.
For the past week, news outlets announce county budget increases based upon tax increase upon tax increase for 2008, as the year comes to a close. Add to that announcements of utility rate hikes from Rocky Mountain Power and Questar Gas utilities, impending UTA sales tax increases without end dates for Davis and Weber County, plus 1.81% statewide sales tax increase on top of that for school district bottomless abyss' if they are removed from property tax bills. Smoke and mirrors anyone? Add to that Water Conservancy and Fire Districts tax rate increases of 16.5 and 27%. The tax'em to death feeding frenzy is just getting started again for 2008. It is as if public outrage over - and demands for - significant tax reform have fallen on deaf, dumb and blind legislators, commissioners, and a multitude of "other taxing entities". Yesterday, the Utah House of Representatives announced they have the votes they need to pass a $90 million tax cut in the upcoming session. And IF our Governor (Huntsman) and the Senate goes along, they plan a $15 million property tax cut for homeowners and businesses, $15 million personal income tax cut for independently employed and who pay their own health insurance and about $60 million for further tax cuts "in other areas".
$15 Million amounts to less than $5.00 off each of our property taxes. It is an outrage and an insult to the people of this State. We demand a significant rollback and reform of property taxation and the legislators offer five bucks "relief"? This - in the face of statewide record numbers of property tax appeals and excruciating agony over whether to cut food, medications, heat, and other survival needs among both the old and infirm, as well as young couples also struggling to make ends meet. Five bucks relief, no reforms, just $5.00 or less per household is Utah's legislator's answer to constituents.
Are we interested in joining a National Tax Revolt? Are we willing to dramatically show our collective will to demonstrate resolve? I think so. People are currently seething and in a "wait and see" frame of mind after Davis County offered one time rebates for properties assessed more than 24% higher than last year. And we here in Ogden Valley, as in many areas of the State, are awaiting the results of "Appeals" to the Boards of Equalization in many counties in record numbers. Those results are beginning to trickle in.
"Shirley", my metaphor for Huntsville Town, represents the average (mean, median and mode) with her taxable assessed valuation increasing every year for the past three years or more. This year her humble 1908 wood frame cottage on .38 acres increased 118% and her property tax 92%. She is 86 years young, a widow and intimidated by the appeals process. She also can not afford a property tax increase from $1004 last year that inexplicably increased to $1,928 this year (house market value from $137,513 in '06 to $299,500 in '07). Her home is worth about $125,000 tops on the open market. Yet she received a check for $189 "for overpayment of property taxes" after her "appeal". This is what uncontrolled and unaccountable local government has wrought upon us. Gross over taxation without representation beyond token possibilities where citizens can rail against it. But local taxing entities, like our legislature, simply do not listen. The newspapers and media are either complicit or intimidated by "the power of various political lobby's or the threats to their advertising revenues".
So it will be in the final analysis, a fight of historic proportions and one which will cut across the grain of cultural druthers. None us wants this fight against our own elected officials. But then we are not the ones "so blind, so deaf, and so dumb they will not see, hear, or demonstrate how smart they are to us".
We are a constitutional republic based upon democratic principles - and I fear we are failing to keep it. If it takes withholding next year's property taxes en-mass, I say let's get started now preparing tables/charts, for each State, which show rows and columns with delinquent tax penalty percentages calculated for ease of use and footnotes with any legal issues appropriate for each State.
One thing appears certain, these "feather merchants" we have elected will do nothing unless we band together and demonstrate in significant numbers our collective economic strength. It is time for "hard ball" in Utah and perhaps in other States as well. Ron's diplomatic approach using communication and reason has predictably failed. It assumed leadership and intelligence where in truth there is the same collective IQ as the flock of 52 wild turkeys now roaming around my property, overwhelmed and lost in a blizzard.
Utah Wingmen for Property Tax Reform
First, let me thank you for returning my call. Let me also wish you a fantastic holiday and new year. I look forward to discussing our Tax Revolt and late tax payment concepts with you and any other National Taxpayers Union folks after the new year.
You had asked that I share with you the folks and organizations that we have been and hope to be working with to promote the Tax Revolt. So I have copied each of those folks.
I explained that if the Arizona Tax Revolt fails to qualify the Property Tax Rollback measures it would be because the system is stacked against newcomers to the political game, not because our ideas are unworthy. Without mainstream press coverage folks don’t know we exist. Because they don’t know of our existence we neither have a sufficient number of volunteers or donations with which to hire signature gatherers. With six months remaining until the July 3rd deadline and since failure is not an option, it was apparent that we need to assure success in an unconventional way.
A gentleman, Ed Carels from Newport Beach, California contacted me a couple of weeks ago. He was impressed with our proposed solutions for the Arizona property taxation system and thought that perhaps we could garner the necessary support by recreating the Boston Tea Party. As you know there are Property Tax Revolts going on in many states, each promoting worthwhile changes. If the changes are proposed by government they are usually little more than window dressing to placate the taxpayer, like for instance a one time freeze on value or some such thing that does little if anything to limit over taxation.
Just like the Boston Tea Party in 1773, the means to achieve a fair taxation system is to deprive the government of tax revenue. This time it will not be due to a shortage of representation but instead due to the failure of our representatives to act in the interest of the property taxpayers. Since local government can not print money the shortfall in revenue will be felt in Arizona beginning on March 1 when the next property tax payment is due and until certain reasonable taxpayer demands are met. The Legislature will feel the sting since they are on the hook to make up any property tax revenue shortfall to the schools by in large the biggest piece of the property tax pie.
For Arizona the preliminary list of demands are:
1) Amnesty for those who make late property tax payments
2) Refer the L.A.W. and S.O.L.E. (anti- illegal alien) initiatives to the ballot
3) Refer the two Tax Revolt initiatives to the ballot
4) A commitment to the Legislature hosting a minimum of six hours of televised debates on the initiatives carried by the local network affiliates prior the Nov. Election.
We have been in touch with D-Bell from Utah who has been fighting property taxes there. His organization is intrigued with the Tax Revolt concept. Don Goldwater and Russell Pierce are promoting the LAW and SOLE border enforcement initiatives and are both aware of this proposal and its potential.
We will be discussing this proposal as well as the benefits of our levy and baseline valuation rollback measures with the Free Enterprise Club after the holidays. The Goldwater Institute will in the coming months produce a white paper outlining the benefits of the measures and their impact on local and state government revenue.
The following are Domains that we have reserved for this effort:
USATAXREVOLT .COM & .ORG
NATIONALTAXREVOLT.COM & .ORG
I look forward to discussing the plan with you after the holiday’s.
Marc Goldstone, Chair.
Arizona Tax Revolt