The Insidiousness of Property Taxes


Over on this thread, there is a discussion on whether the elimination of the property tax deduction would be a good thing. Any time the subject of property taxes comes up my hackles raise, my blood pressure skyrockets, and my wife flees the room so she doesn’t have to listen to the tirade again.

When the state levies property taxes you never truly own your home. Since private property is often considered a fundamental principle of a free society, this is a serious problem for me. My wife and I “own” our home. The state of Texas only charged us $325 per month to live in it this year, but that amount is expected to go up every year for the rest of my life. It does not matter whether I make $30k per year or $130k per year, it still costs me $325 per month to keep what I supposedly already own.

What makes property tax so insidious is that many people don’t even know how much they’re paying. Their mortgage company conveniently packages it up in an escrow all year long so all they see is one monthly payment for principle, interest, and property tax. They never realize that 25 percent of their payment is going to taxes. Oh, and did I mention the best feature of property taxes? They’re self-raising. Mr. Representative doesn’t even have to vote for a tax increase. He gets one automatically any time the housing market improves.

I despise property taxes. Give me an income tax over a property tax any day. At least then people have to file a tax return every year and are forced to see how much the government is taking from them. I truly pity those of you who live in states with both income and property tax.

Published in Domestic Policy
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  1. Mark Camp Member
    Mark Camp

    ShellGamer (View Comment):
    Education is a private good, but failure to educate children creates an public externality when people don’t have enough education to support themselves and fulfill their duties as citizens.

    To the extent that the utility or cost of class of goods is external, it is a class of public goods. If we call education a private good, meaning that it should be traded on cooperative markets, but then pointing out the public utility of it, or the public opportunity cost of not having it, you are trying to have it both ways.

    Similar externalities arise when people fail to save for retirement or take care of their health.

    You can’t declare that my decisions concerning my personal affairs are an externality, simply because you will feel obligated to extend charity to me if my decisions happen to bring ruin to me.  Your expected future feelings of charity don’t preemptively invalidate my freedom to make decisions concerning my life that you disagree with.  Otherwise, you could argue that my failure to purchase insurance, even insurance that would bankrupt me, against every misfortune that might befall me, justifies me being your ward.  And who then decides who should be the ward, and whom the custodian?

    • #61
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