Thursday, January 17, 2008

Like I said, "Huntsman not keen on tax cuts"

Greetings friends and neighbors,

I my quest to keep you up to snuff on important property tax issues the following article is repeated from today's Tribune. But first a personal note and caution for you to consider.

After meeting with three new coalition members for three hours, I had an interesting conversation with the Weber Assessor's office (Doug Larson) today. There are still some appeals which have not been completed. Mine, for example, is in the "short pile". Turns out that in the 1990's someone "who no longer works there" incorrectly put a card in my file saying I have a full finished basement (1,340 square feet). In truth we have a 110 sq. ft. unfinished "fruit room" you can not even stand up in.

I tell you good folks this because whether you appealed your property taxes or not you need to carefully consider going downtown and insisting you review the data the Weber County (or Davis or any other County) Assessor has in their data base on your property. In my personal case the Weber County Assessor has been taxing me on erroneous data which basically doubles our home's size since the 1990s.

Will I receive any back taxes or credits for a gross error made by the Assessor's office which doubles the size of my home? Not likely. Will you? Also not likely. So I highly recommend two things; (a) do your own audit of what they are taxing you on. Make no assumptions that the data they have is correct. (b) actively join in the opposition to House Bill (HB 54) which forces all counties to use computer assisted mass reassessments, which only hide and magnify gross errors in assessor's data bases.

Huntsman not keen on tax cuts
But will consider property tax reform
By Sheena McFarlandThe Salt Lake Tribune
Article Last Updated: 01/16/2008
Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. won't consider anything resembling an income tax cut, and is cautious about any tax relief in light of a faltering economy. However, property tax relief is the one area he says he will "look at with an open mind." "I've never felt that we ought to have tax cuts as our priorities this year. I'm not going to look seriously at anything beyond a property tax relief package . . . the other areas I'm just not interested in," he said Wednesday in an interview. "We started this year with record tax cuts, but now we're entering a period of economic uncertainty. Let's see how these tax reform measures play out this year and see how that leaves our state." A tax law went into effect Jan. 1 that creates a modified "flat" income tax system in the state and will cut taxes an estimated $110 million. House leadership this year is looking at a tax-cut package of about $88 million with $15 million going toward a tax credit for those paying for their health insurance with post-tax dollars. The rest will go to property tax relief. "We don't have any income tax cuts planned," said Speaker Greg Curtis. Currently, legislators have filed 26 bills addressing the property or income tax. But Curtis also recognizes that projected revenues were too high, and that means sticking to funding basic needs. He compares this session to a Christmas when money is tight. "This is a socks and underwear session. We'll still be able to buy some things, but it's going to be the necessities," Curtis said. Senate budget chairman Lyle Hillyard said Senate leadership is leaning toward a property tax cut as its top priority. "We've done income and sales tax in the past, and we know people are very sensitive about [property taxes]," he said. "But a big thing is seeing what comes in February. If revenues have dropped off at all, that will make us nervous about what tax cuts we'll make." Senate President John Valentine says in addition to property tax cuts, senators are looking at two secondary areas. One involves giving a tax break to corporations who do out-of-state sales and the other would attempt to better equalize state funding for school buildings. Not knowing what will happen in February is one reason why Huntsman wants to see different funding for various areas, including education, human services and transportation instead of doling out tax cuts. "People are feeling the pain of property value increases," he said. "But it's prudent first to watch how this year plays out and how it affects the economy and secondly to move on to our next priorities."


ozboy said...

Boy O Boy Mr. Machman, you sure got it right about making sure the tax assessor has the right information on your property that they base their appraisal on.

After I got my $5,000+ bump in property taxes last year from Davis county I went over to the court house with steam coming outta my ears! After ranting about the need for a proposition 13 in Utah they calmed me down and went over my property file. By the way, talking about Prop 13 to these people strikes terror in them! The entire office was staring at me like I was attacking the sacred cow!

I was totally amazed at the incredible detail they have on every property they assess. The program is so complicated and convoluted that even the experts in the office do not fully understand it, and that is a true story! They were all standing around scratching their heads trying to explain to me, and each other, what all the crap in their computer means!

In my case, with several buildings and acres involved, they had at least 50 items that their program uses to calculate my taxes. Also, in my case they had many many errors - every single one tilted in their favor! They had me with patios I didn't have, rooms I didn't have, and even the wrong kind of shingles! Yes, the kind of shingles you have actually effects your tax bill!!

Needless to say I was shocked at the complexity and inaccuracy of my "file" at the assessors office! After much wrangling, and a visit to my place by the main assessor himself, their bogus info on at least 10 items on my property was corrected and the taxes were reduced by about $900, which still leaves over a hundred percent increase in what I have to pay.

And yes, there is no provision in the law for them to pay you back taxes they have collected in the past based on their own bogus information about your property! If their info is wrong it is just your tough luck pal. You shoulda checked out your info sooner - in spite of the fact that the overwhelming majority of property owners don't even know the assessor has this kind of extensive and false info on their place...

Minor Machman said...

Thanks Ozboy for the validation. PEOPLE! Please listen and like contacting all the legislators and Governor as I suggest..."JUST DO IT!!!" Once a week "Just do it" send those emails and help your neighbors if they are not on-line. Tell them to also check the Assessor's data base information. It is hidden away from us and only becomes available through access to their protected data base software which you and I can not access.

Anonymous said...

First of all. I think your advice to contact the local assessors office is right on target. People who find they may have been over assessed due to an incorrect description of their parcel should follow up with a letter to the assessor describing the issue. If you've been over assessed for a number of years there is often a remedy that can be made to correct the situation.

I work for the Davis County Assessor. Ozboy may have had an eventful visit to our office and we may have had an incorrect description of his parcel but our office is very competent with the system used to keep track of assessment information. It is important to point out that as he describes in his comment his assessment was adjusted when he pointed out the errors in our description of his property. It is the policy of the Davis County assessor to compensate people affected by situations such as Ozboy's if they have overpaid in past years. It is likely that no compensation was made to Ozboy for previous years because he was under-assessed during those years even taking into consideration the errors the assessor made in describing his property. If Ozboy lives in Bountiful or Kaysville his property was likely grossly undervalued during those years.

ozboy said...

I would like to point out that during my experience with the Davis County Assessor's office the people that worked there were extremely nice and accommodating. They are sincere about trying to rectify the problems that exist in their very complex computer system and spent a considerable amount of time wrestling with me and my specific problems. I do stand by my prior statement that when I visited, the people on duty were having a difficult time understanding this overly complex system.

The Davis Country Assessor, Mr. Ivie, is a very fine and honest guy, who does his best in a very difficult situation. I understand he also got hit with a very large increase in his own property! That damn computer apparently isn't all that impressed about him being the big boss!

The problem is not with the county assessors in my experience, it is with the damn state laws and that great infernal joke called the Utah State Legislature.

Larry E. said...

Another horror story from Magna….played poker tonite with a guy with 4.9 acres vacant land. Got hit with a 350% increase. And the beat (down) goes on.

Lionel said...

Don't ya just love how "anonymous" above, from the Davis Co. Assessor's office, ended up blaming the victim!

Typical of some modern day government employees who are almost certainly making a lot more money on the govt payroll than they could in the private sector, and who have a disdain for the masses who are often victimized by their mistakes and miscalculations.

Some of them, the real trough sloppers, seem to have a belief in "Caveat emptor" - Buyer beware - as if we buyers (taxpayers) are supposed to know the intricacies of the very complicated tax formulas the government uses, and if we don't know all the trick stuff? - well "screw em, let em eat cake, let em pay more than is fair - if they're too dumb to know the law screw em!" This doesn't apply to all government employees of course, but there are plenty of them at every level.

On this 07 property tax "rebate" that Davis Co is making a lot of hay over - if you think this one time give back of a few bucks is easy to collect then you ought to talk to someone who has gone through it. The county doesn't just calculate what they "over charged you" and send you a check! No sirree bob they don't! In the 2 cases I know of folks had to jump through a couple of hoops and do a jig to boot to get their "refund"! I don't know if this is the case with all of Davis Co. or just these two. Has anyone else reading this had any experience in the Davis Rebate program?

Ozboy - you may think those nice folks behind the big old counters in the Davis County court house are your friends, but make no mistake about it, they are well paid and loyal soldiers of the enemy - the political and bureaucratic system with the insatiable appetite for the green contents of your wallet.

Any meaningful tax reform on any level has to be accompanied by putting the beast on a strict diet. The out of control spending by local governments and school districts is the real culprit in this outrageous property tax assault we are suffering from. Every one of those entities listed on your tax bill is it's own big empire with it's own voracious appetite for your greenery.

If the property owners of Utah don't come together on this outrage, if they don't stand up together and shout "NO MORE", then they will continue to be fleeced by their masters from the gummint!

Minor Machman said...

Well said Ozboy. And if what Lionel added is not the truth then let the Davis County respondent call me (745-1419) or email me at with his identity. I know Jim Ivie personally since he flew as a backseater (Radio Intercept Officer (RIO) in F-4J's as a Marine out of VMFA 333 at Beaufort MCAS, S.C. about the same time I went on an Exchange Tour with the Marines as a USAF Capt. pilot assigned to VMFA 312 at Beaufort, S.C. Jim is a good man and drinking from a firehose trying not to drown learning about his new job as Davis County Assessor. Although on the wrong track of computer assisted mass reassessments, he will suffer through much before hopefully we can get the legislative relief we need to make sense of property taxation in Utah.

Jim if you are listening, don't get all those new assessors too used to doing it using computers. Acquistion value does not take so many employees nor such expensive software. The three additional assessors are an unnecessary taxpayer expense when it is all said and done. Keep your eyes trained on the ball, it is hell without rudders or throttles back there.