It’s spring, the campaign season!

A primer for the feeble-minded

*The marketplace sets the value (what a willing buyer will pay to a willing seller) of your house—not the governor, not the lieutenant governor, not the attorney general, not legislators, not mayors or town council members or supervisors, not the tax assessor, not the bank, not your Sunday school teacher. The marketplace sets the value of your house.

*The tax you pay on your house is determined by two things—the value of your house, as set by the marketplace, multiplied by the rate of taxation that is set by your supervisors, or by your town and city council members. The governor doesn’t set this rate. The lieutenant governor doesn’t set this rate. The attorney general doesn’t. The legislators don’t. The tax assessor doesn’t set it, nor does your Sunday school teacher. The folks you elect locally set this rate.

*If you think this rate of taxation on your house is too high, you can change it. You have the ultimate weapon. It’s called a ‘ballot.’ Use it. Vote out the local folks who have set your rate too high. It is easy. You can do it.

*And two final things to remember:

(1) There is really only one kind of tax in this country. It is income tax. One way or another it all comes out of out of your income; and

(2) It’s spring, true, but it is also the campaign season. You might not want to stand too close. That warm water you feel running down your leg might not be rain.

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  1. Anonymous Avatar

    In Fauquier County the Board of Supervisors is planning to change to rotating elections. That way it will take 20 years to fire the board and make government even less responsive to peoples wishes, or special interest pressure, depending on how you look at it.

    Either way it will make tax retaliation a lot more difficult.

  2. Jim Bacon Avatar
    Jim Bacon

    I agree with Barnie on this one. Property taxes are a local issue, not a state issue. Kaine and Kilgore ought to be focusing on how they’re going to make STATE government work better. The last time legislators got involved in local tax issues, they came up with the car tax, a clunky vehicle for tax reform that consistently cost more than expected because — surprise! — people gamed the system, and spread its benefits across the state incredibly unevenly.

    Neither Kaine nor Kilgore address the underlying problem of rising property taxes, which is NOT rising property values and real estate assessments. In theory, local boards and city councils could compensate for higher assessments by cutting the RATE at which property is taxed. They haven’t. Why not? Because the cost of local government is spiraling out of control. And why is that? The reasons are multi-faceted, but one of the most prominent is the dysfunctional land use patterns that drive up the cost of providing local government services. Fixing those kinds of problems requires solutions that neither candidate is willing to speak about, much less endorse.

  3. Anonymous Avatar

    60% of local government cost is schools. The next biggest cost driver is rising salaries and health care benefits cost. The third biggest cost is the demand for more and better social services, combined with unfunded mandates from above.

    None of these are particularly location dependent. Even the most optimistic proponents of better land use project savings of only 15% to 20% over 50 years, and I don’t believe it will be a fraction of that if all the costs are considered.

    In the end, the cost of government will be all we allow them to take from us. Government being what it is, the value we receive for the money we spend will be 50 to 80%.

    No matter what we do, what policies we inflict, half the population will claim the other half is getting something for nothing. People will always game the system for their own benefit.

    “Every individual necessarily labors to render the annual revenue of the society as great as he can. He generally indeed neither intends to promote the public interest, nor knows how much he is promoting it. He intends only his own gain, and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention. By pursuing his own interest he frequently promotes that of the society more effectually than when he really intends to promote it. I have never known much good done by those who affected to trade for the public good.” – Adam Smith

    Ray Hyde

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