The Aesthetically Pleasing View Tax

November 1, 2005

An amusing story from New Hampshire, via

Orford, NH—The one-room cabin David Bischoff built in a cow pasture three years ago has no electricity, no running water, no phone service and no driveway. What it does have is a wide-open view of nearby hills and distant mountains – which makes it seven times more valuable than if it had no view, according to the latest town-wide property assessment. He expects his property taxes to shoot up accordingly.

Bischoff and other Orford residents bitterly call that a “view tax,” and they are leading a revolt against it that has gained support in many rural towns in New Hampshire.

State officials say there is no such thing as a “view tax” – it is a “view factor,” and it has always been a part of property assessments. The only change is that views have become so valuable in some towns that assessors are giving them a separate line on appraisal records.

Due to changes in valuations, assessment ratios and tax rates, property taxes can increase greatly without a person changing their behavior. This is one reason why they are widely perceived as unfair by taxpayers. See the Tax Foundation’s annual survey of tax attitudes to see what other local, state and federal taxes are perceived as unfair.

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