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Thursday, June 16, 2011

So Why Do I Pay Property Taxes Anyway?

On the drive to the office this morning I heard an ad from a company offering loans to people who had not yet paid last year’s property taxes. I figure most people have the taxes rolled up into the mortgage so they should be OK. If not it can be a big lump sum at the end of the year so I can see where people might get into a pickle; if that is you my sympathies – I hope you get it figured out. Me; I chose not to do the mortgage thing and I save for the property taxes monthly over the course of the year [what was that old saying about looking after the pennies – I earn a few dollars interest over the course of the year]. We all have gaps in our knowledge and experience. I don’t believe anyone out there has a perfect skill set. I know I have my failings, perhaps more than most. Managing my personal finance thankfully is not one of them. I have the experience and discipline to save, and always have the funds when needed, for my property taxes though I do feel obliged to confess that that knowledge and discipline was borne of the angst of major credit card debt and the hounding of debt collectors in a somewhat less disciplined time. None of that however is the purpose of this post.

So what is? Well hearing that ad put me in mind once again of the fact that I question why I pay property taxes [or at least the most significant part of them] in the first place. Not for the first time did this thought occurred to me and it will likely not be the last. The bulk of the money goes to the local school district. I don’t have kids. I chose not to do so. I could never find a good reason to take my life along that path. I know most would disagree and that is fine and dandy – and the subject of another discussion at another time. But why am I paying taxes to the school district?

Take your chance now. You can likely see where this is heading. There's more after the break. If you don’t want to go there just don’t click.

I chose not to have kids – why am I paying to the schools? Why are the schools paid for, at least in part, by property taxes? If I choose to have kids should I not be the one paying for their education. If I choose to have kids I get, to start with, a break on my taxes. Taxes paid by the “nuclear family” with the same income as my wife and I will be less than ours; why? Kids are not essential, they are not forced upon parents and they are a choice. Why is it that making that choice nets a tax break? I happen to like dogs; if I had 100 of them [and no we only have three] there would be no tax break because we had additional expenses. If I wanted a nice shiny new Lexus [which as it happens I do not] and I could not sensibly afford it I would not get a tax break to help me get one. Should I not expect those who cannot afford kids not to have them? I sense the flames. I know this is a point of view contrary to the conventional one; I am supposed to like kids. Second hand smoke is an anathema to the majority and is being legislated out. I am not particularly fond of kids but I am inflicted with second hand kids at every turn and yet lo and behold I am the “bad guy” if I don’t smile, shut up and think kids are not just the greatest thing anyone ever thought of.

Taking the most simplistic of views that tax break increases my taxes. There is a requirement for a certain level of taxation income for the government [though of course they then choose to completely ignore that and go ahead print money anyway – another one for another day]. If some pay less than others then some must pay more. Simple math. To an extent I can live with that though perhaps my view that I don’t see what my taxes might be if the tax break was not there so it does not hurt me is reminiscent of the Ostrich’s take on hiding from the enemy.

Anyway, having said that we now go on and on top of the tax break we say “let’s make the property owners liable for the education of the kids”; not the parents; the property owners irrespective of whether they have kids or not.

To use an old English quote “That’s just not cricket”


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