OMT One Man's Trash...from Norman Leahy

Monday, August 14, 2006 :::

Abolish the Property Tax?

That's what John Steele Gordon thinks we ought to do. In a thought-provoking interview on Marketplace, Gordon says:

Forget about reforming the property tax. It's a relic of the colonial past and should be abolished. Instead, send it to the Smithsonian and display it along with other relics like chamber pots and clay pipes.

In the 18th century, real property was probably the best measure available of a person's ability to pay taxes. That's because it generated income from farming or things like water mills, ship yards and stores. Only the very rich had residences on town lots.

But in today's suburban world, property is a terrible measure of a family's ability to pay taxes. Almost all privately-owned property today is income-absorbing. And it's also grossly unfair.

The typical middle class family has most of its wealth tied up in a house. The very rich, however, while their houses may be grand, with squash courts, wine cellars, indoor swimming pools, and heaven knows what else, have only a small portion of their assets tied up in real estate.

The result is that the middle class family pays a much higher proportion of its annual income in local taxes than does the zillionaire across town.

He believes the fair and simple replacement would be for states to raise their income taxes and share the additional revenue with local governments.

Which would happen shortly after pigs flew to Mars.

::: posted by Norman Leahy at 8/14/2006 4 comments


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