August 10, 2006

Mississippi: How Not to Talk About Property Tax Reform

It's a familiar story around the nation this year: home values are going up dramatically, and long-term residents on fixed incomes are worried that they'll have to sell their homes because they can't afford to pay higher property taxes.

This story is being told, up to a point, in Mississippi by the Jackson Clarion-Ledger right now. The article's author interviews two elderly residents of Lakeview, a town that was pretty much obliterated by Hurricane Katrina. Both homeowners express the same basic concern: that as fixed-income seniors, they simply don't have the means to pay a rapidly rising property tax bill.

The only remedy discussed in the C-J article is a tax cap. A bill introduced this past year would have capped the growth of residential property taxes at 3% a year. This is the classic "bait and switch" fostered by anti-tax advocates: identify a problem everyone can agree with (taxing fixed-income seniors out of their homes) and come up with a solution that benefits even the wealthiest (and youngest) homeowners. The C-J article's failure to discuss other articles is regrettable, but probably just reflects the absence of an informed debate among state policymakers about more targeted alternatives. Too bad.


Post a Comment

<< Home