Learn to Love Your Property Taxes

In my current Virginia Pundit Watch column, I noted a Sunday op-ed in the Washington Post by David Brunori, a contributing editor to State Tax Notes magazine and a research professor of public policy at George Washington University. He strongly defended the local property tax.

Brunori was on-line today, taking reader questions and sticking to his guns on the overall fairness of the local property tax system. If you think your locality is taking in too much money, throw the supervisors out was his prescription.

At least two NVA readers complained about subsizing other parts of the state, including this gem:

I advocate secession from the rest of state.

Subsidizing the rest of Virginia is not my goal with my tax dollars. Last year Fairfax County residents got back less a quarter for every tax dollar we sent to Richmond. 50 cents of each of my tax dollars should come home to Fairfax County.

Share this article


(comments below)


(comments below)


  1. Barnie Day Avatar

    Brunori is exactly right. Those are locally-imposed taxes. If they’re too high, why not throw out the supervisors who imposed them? You DO believe in the ballot process, don’t you Will?

  2. Will Vehrs Avatar

    What makes you think I don’t believe in the ballot process at the local level? I actually will accept higher local taxes before I will accept higher state and federal taxes for the very reason that I have more of a “say.” It’s much easier for the layman to audit spending.

    My question is what localities in NVA are doing with the windfall they are receiving from higher property taxes due to rising, but it’s really none of my business.

    I just think it’s interesting.

  3. Barnie Day Avatar

    There is no windfall, per se. Law prohibits local govts from backdoor tax increases via reassessments. They have a 1% wiggle room. With a reassessment, they must roll back the rate so that it produces the same revenue, within 1%, and then publicly vote to increase it from there for whatever revenue they need. Further, law requires them to adopt a balanced budget, thus you can see it for yourself. Doubt you’ll find a ‘windfall’ line item. The reason local supervisors are not sacked is that folks who think the local property taxes are too high are in a minority. Believe me, this is a wonderfully self-correcting process once the toleration threshold is crossed.

  4. Will Vehrs Avatar

    I’d forgotten about the 1% thing. Thanks for setting me straight.

    Doesn’t the apathy you have decried also keep voters from removing local supervisors? I also think a lot of local voters are one issue voters–vote against that development across the way from them and they’ll forgive a multitude of sins.

  5. Barnie Day Avatar

    Will, my sense is that you’re right on both counts there. I think another inhibitor, when it comes to turning someone out, is that most govts are by district, rather than at large. Same way with state govt. We don’t vote slates, but individuals, and that, I believe, makes incumbency stronger in that office holders don’t have to consider greater good so much as neighborhood good. Does that make any sense?

  6. Yeah. NIMBY is pretty much how people vote in local races.

  7. If by “Pro-Family” you mean “hilarious”, then check out this PAC:

    Virginia Family Values PAC

Leave a Reply