New York Times: New York Ready for Prop 13-Style Property Tax Revolt?

October 5, 2009

Peter Applebome of the New York Times recites some of the latest numbers on property taxes, which we reported on last week in our report “New Census Data on Property Taxes on Homeowners” and the related Map: Property Taxes on Owner-Occupied Housing by State:

[O]f the 10 counties with the highest real estate taxes as a percentage of home value, all 10 are in New York. Or, to try one more, of the states with the highest median real estate taxes overall, New Jersey is No. 1, Connecticut is No. 2 and New York is No. 4 (tax-averse New Hampshire, which does not have a general sales tax or a personal income tax, sneaks in at No. 3).

It is amazing to me that a state with neither income nor sales taxes still has lower property taxes than New Jersey, Connecticut, and New York.

Dr. Richard Nathan, recently retired as co-director of the respected Rockefeller Institute of Government at SUNY Albany, suggests that a tax revolt is not a question of whether but when. And the Times piece suggests that it may already be under way in New Jersey.

I found this paragraph interesting:

The Nassau County executive, Thomas R. Suozzi, whose “Fix Albany” mantra got him nowhere when he ran for governor against Eliot Spitzer in 2006 but looks pretty smart in retrospect, says that property taxes are inseparable from dysfunction in state government. He cites several reasons why property taxes are so high: unreasonable state mandates piled on local governments; income tax dollars inequitably distributed back to local governments; far too many local governments – more than 10,500 in New York – that need to be consolidated or eliminated; fraud and waste; and economic stagnation producing no expansion in the property tax base. You could throw in crippling Medicaid costs and unsustainable pension costs.

Often our critics say that yes, states in the Northeast generally have high taxes but they also have good public services. Maybe we should do a user poll: are New York and New Jersey government services worth the high taxes?

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