In his column “It would be a bad idea to replace property taxes to pay for public schools” (Oct. 13 and TribLIVE.com), Ray Richman wrote that property owners' property-tax burden cannot be shifted to others (tenants).
Well, the first thing added to the list of expenses making up the rent is the property tax, divided by 12. The tenant pays it!
Richman claims the property tax “is economical to administer” and goes on to say the last Allegheny County reassessment cost $30 million plus $10 million to fix errors plus more millions of dollars to “reasonably” update. In reality, the property tax is one of the most expensive taxes to collect as a proportion of revenue. Keep in mind that property is valueless until sold.
Richman says that the property tax is more progressive than a sales tax. Consider this: Tom and Joe buy identical houses. Tom makes $50,000 a year; Joe, $100,000. Tom lives frugally and invests money and sweat equity, making his house the nicest on the block. Joe, two houses away, lives an expensive lifestyle, investing nothing in his property, which in time becomes the worst property on the block.
The new assessment doubles Tom's property value and halves Joe's. Now, Tom pays four times the property tax that Joe pays. There is no relationship to the ability to pay.
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