Sunday, February 3, 2008

Citizen's Coalition for Tax Fairness, rebuttal to "Curing property taxes could hurt the young"

Greetings friends and neighbors,

I have told all the Coalition we must make this information such common knowledge that every citizen should know it almost by heart before the elections this year. We need to rid our legislature of these rascals and replace them with honest and capable, genuinely motivated public servants, retired with no particular "dog in any hunt" and thus COIs.

I spoke with Senator Howard Stephenson, the Dean of and/or "Godfather of our current Truth in Taxation scheme" based upon "current market valuations" and currently locked-in by the State Constitution wording. He said he supports our acquisition value assessments approach. And in fact he made his own proposal for Acquisition Value based assessments several years ago. I was shocked by his statement and asked "So what happened to your proposal?" To which he replied "The Realtor's Association killed it. They jumped all over it."

Now is anyone listening? The man who worked the hardest for TNT even knows and has known apparently for several years the system has been corrupted and by whom and why.

"The more I learn about what has happened and is continuing within the legislature due to Realtor and Developer lobbyists' inappropriate influences and interference, the more angry I get about it. And like Howard Jarvis was in 1978..."I'm mad as Hell". And you all should be also....Minor Machman

A recent article quotes lobbyists for the League of Utah Cities and Towns and Voices for Utah Children who claim that switching to acquisition value based property taxation would hurt young couples. The Coalition for Tax Fairness would like to refute this notion.

My mother was a single parent mom with my two sisters and I living alone in California when Proposition 13 was passed. At that time we were barely surviving nearing starvation and becoming homeless due to property taxes being so high based upon current market value. Proposition 13 (acquisition value) saved me and my family’s life.” Jeannie Wendell, co editor of the Ogden Valley News.

The advantage of acquisition value applies to everyone, not just seniors. Coalition members believe everyone is threatened by taxation based upon property appreciation values which exceed inflation. This is not a “we (seniors) versus them (our children)” issue.

Acquisition value has been challenged in the courts all the way to the US Supreme Court. In every case, the courts have decided that acquisition value is not only fair and constitutional, but also desirable because it provides “preservation, continuity and stability” in local neighborhoods. It is not surprising, then, that virtually every other state in the union has replaced current market valuation assessments with acquisition value assessments.

Consider this. Utah property sales activity and tax revenues will be negatively impacted if Utah becomes infamous for taxing people out of their homes. Seniors on fixed incomes will be, and are in fact, moving out, shifting significantly more tax burden onto younger families. This is bad for both senior citizens and younger citizens.

Many Utah citizens are living in denial having not yet experienced these large increases. But their turn will come next year or the year after. People who have already received large increases in property taxes are putting property up for sale and moving away or going bankrupt. Others are stressed as they see the most important possession in their life - their security and hope for self-reliance - being taken from them by an unfair antiquated taxing system.

So why does Utah still rely on an antiquated and unfair property tax system?

The answer lies in the fact that this system of taxation has the full support of the most powerful lobbying group in the state of Utah - the Realtors Association of Utah.

Chris Kyler, CEO of the association, bragged, "I've got people who are on county commissions, mayors, state senators. Our lieutenant governor was president of our state association about 20 years ago. Our people are involved in the parties, too. We've got precinct chairs and vice chairs and county delegates throughout the state."

No fewer than 22 people who make their living in real estate also serve as members of the Utah legislature. (Our Representative Froerer served as President of the Utah Realtor Association before being elected to the House in 2006.) Not surprisingly, Utah has some of the toughest real estate laws in the country—which protect the business interests of Realtors and their 6% commissions. (ref.

Kyler has been with the Utah Association of Realtors during the state's last eight legislative sessions. "Of the bills that we've opposed since 1999, we've been able to defeat 100 percent of them," he says. "We either defeated all of them or we amended them so that it made our position neutral."

So long as the present Utah property tax system is strongly supported by the powerful real estate lobby, we will not have fairness in taxation, and all citizens will suffer, young and old alike.

Acquisition value is easy to understand, easy to administer objectively, and it provides fairness for all demographics, while still providing a stable revenue flow for our taxing entities.

Tell your legislators and the Governor this by writing a letter to the editor of the Standard Examiner this week. They have a 250 word limit and say they will bundle themn and send to our legislators. This is a unique opportunity to make our voices count. I have written mine and sent it in, have you?

Property tax reform (not band aids on symptoms as suggested.)

Circuit Breaker “safeguards”: Yes, raise them to reasonable levels but tie to inflation.

Five year rolling averages: No, “We reran the taxes on an 18,000 residence sample to determine winners and losers. Winners were homes valued from $500,000 to $700,000 (i.e. the outside money coming into the state is bidding up the prices on that home price range). Half the tax shift was to $150,000 homes (i.e. out of state home buyers don't want an inexpensive home so prices on those homes are pretty flat.) The other half of the tax shift went to commercial property. I have decided that a 5 year rolling average is not the answer.
I now believe the answer can be acquisition value plus cost of living increase annually. I will support that concept. It will take a constitutional amendment but I think it is doable. What we have now is very unfair.” Senator Stowell.

Computer mass reassessments: No, requires Davis Co. to use computers. Weber, Utah, and Salt Lake have done it for years. Does not cure the “disease” (fair market value reassessments) and perpetuates inequities and magnifies errors in their data bases.

“There are others”: Yes, acquisition value (AV) or “baseline” Prop. 13 “type”. At least half the United States agree, having ditched “Truth in Taxation” and all its flaws. Find a homeowner who lived under AV, who does not think it fair and want it for Utah. I can not. Support credible study effort designed to recommend most fair property taxation and enact it next session.

Word count 250
285 S. 7200 E.
Huntsville, UT 84317
Phone: 801-745-1419 Cell: 801-710-6270

-Mortgage Bankers Association reports 3.92 % of Utah Mortgage loans
are at least 30 days past due, up from 3.71 % last year and first
time in ages Utah's rate increased.
-Realty Trac, a national home-foreclosure tracking agency shows:
60 homes in Davis Co. as "pre-foreclosure", 203 bank-owned, and 374
up for auction. Weber Co. is worse. 434 bank-owned properties, 196
in pre-foreclosure, and 343 up for auction.

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