Tax Modernization –Realtors drop the idea of a statewide property tax
Co-Founder for CitizensForTaxFairness.org
July 15, 2019
Editor's note: This was originally written during the summer of 2019. It is being posted here at this time since automatic annual school district property tax increases are now reportedly being considered as an element of state tax reform.
A powerful lobbyist for the Utah Realtors Association told
listeners of Utah’s Red
Meat Radio (March 11, 2019 podcast at 15:30 in the discussion) that a new
state property tax was the solution to Utah’s tax modernization efforts. According to the lobbyist, a small state
property tax that automatically brings in more revenue as home values increase would
raise between $300 million and $700 million in new, stable, broad-based,
discretionary revenue (that’s right, “discretionary” revenue) for the state.
On July 8, 2019, a staff member of the Realtor Association
told me that the idea was dead and that realtors were not supporting a new,
statewide property tax.
So why the change in position since the Realtors have
apparently have drunk the Salt Lake Chamber and Kem C. Gardner Public Policy
Institute Kool-Aid and believe that the state needs a new source of constantly
increasing discretionary revenue to maintain the exploding growth of its budget
which has gone up a whopping 146% during the past 20 years. This is roughly three times more than the 55%
increase in median household income and the 44% social security benefit
increase realized by senior citizens during the past 20 years. When population growth (45%) and social
security benefit increases are combined, the state budget has still increased
by 57% more than the combination of the two—46% more than combined population
and median income growth.
But, why were the Realtors so willing to sacrifice grandma,
who is just trying to get by on her meager fixed income? Why did they propose giving the state an
ownership interest in her home? Could
the answer be that the Realtors were afraid that the sales
tax on services, which is largely the brainchild
of the Enemy
of the Taxpayer, Salt Lake Chamber, will impact their bottom line? Was it because they actually support big
government? Was it because they want to socialize Realtor
costs and privatize Realtor profits? Or
is it because of all of these?
What the Realtors and other powerful business groups have in
common is (1) they all support tax policies that will ensure continued exploding
government growth; (2) they all support the creation of more taxes that
primarily impact low and middle income Utahns while holding businesses with
political power and influence largely harmless; and (3) most importantly they
all want a tax structure that allows them to socialize their business costs while
privatizing their profits.
Given the power of the Realtors in Utah and Utah’s Realtor
friendly governor Gary Herbert, aka
Available Jones, it is not beyond the realm of possibility that a statewide
property tax could still be implemented.
So what can you do to ensure that a stake is driven into the heart of
the Realtor proposal?
Start by telling your local real estate agents that a new
statewide property tax is a terrible idea and that it is definitely not tax
modernization since it is just doing more of the same. Then tell your legislators to demand that the
state cut its spending. After all, the
state should not do better than the citizens.
Finally, while you have the Realtors and your elected
officials’ attention, let them know that they are contributing to the increased
interest in socialism in the United States.
After all, if socialism is good enough for the Realtors and other big
business interests when they socialize their costs, then why isn’t it good
enough for everyone else?