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Are Property Taxes Really Unfair?

1 min readBy: Andrew Chamberlain

One of the most surprising results from this year’s Annual Survey of U.S. Attitudes on Tax and Wealth was the response to the question, “Of the following state and local taxes, which do you think is the worst taxA tax is a mandatory payment or charge collected by local, state, and national governments from individuals or businesses to cover the costs of general government services, goods, and activities. — that is, the least fair?” The responses are below:

While property taxes are clearly the most hated state and local tax, it may turn out that this has more to do with rising home prices than any inherent unfairness in the tax itself. Not surprisingly, more states are wising up to this logic and are pushing for property tax cuts to counter soaring home values:

Soaring property taxes are a top worry in state legislatures across the country, where lawmakers are trying to appease disgruntled homeowners… From Texas to Illinois to Pennsylvania, lawmakers are weighing property taxA property tax is primarily levied on immovable property like land and buildings, as well as on tangible personal property that is movable, like vehicles and equipment. Property taxes are the single largest source of state and local revenue in the U.S. and help fund schools, roads, police, and other services. caps, limits, exemptions and other ways to ease the burdens for homeowners….

Just from 2002 to 2004, the nation’s median price of a single-family, metropolitan home rose from $158,100 to $184,100, according to the National Association of Realtors. That’s a 16.4 percent increase. Some areas — such as Las Vegas, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., and Riverside, Calif.—saw 30 percent increases.

That also means higher taxes, which homeowners don’t like.

(See here for more on property taxes)