Over at Zero Hedge there’s a post that points out something interesting and dismaying. Although property values for houses have fallen 30% since their peak in 2006, property taxes haven’t fallen along with them:
You might think that with home prices off by 30% or more since the housing/credit bubble popped in 2006, property taxes would have declined by a similar percentage. But you’d be wrong: they’ve gone up. As if the massive reduction in home equity wasn’t enough of a blow to the Middle Class, they’re also paying higher property taxes.
Though house prices have declined roughly 30% nationally since the 2006 peak of the housing bubble, property taxes have continued their decade-long rise, jumping $45 billion (over 10%) since 2008.
Read it and weep. State, country, and city governments are responding to the economic downturn very much as they did during the Depression of the 1930s. When housing values declined rather than reduce property taxes (and decrease their revenues) they maintained or even increased them. This resulted in more defaults and foreclosures than would otherwise occurred.
For many people much of their wealth is tied up in their homes. A property tax based on valuation is in fact a wealth tax. That stings particularly when it’s a levy of taxes on wealth that may never be realized.
You may recall that my mom died last year. Over the course of the year I’ve had her house appraised, found that it was worth less than the county thought it was, and also determined that it was mischaracterized on the property rolls (fewer bedrooms than claims, less square footage than claimed, story and a half rather than two stories). I appealed the property tax assessment. My appeal was denied (at least the taxes weren’t increased). I put out a few feelers and determined that the county was awarding very, very few property tax appeals, if any.