Tax Guru – Ker$tetter Letter

Helping real people win the tax game.

Not Exactly Rocket Scientists

Posted by taxguru on August 5, 2003

We recently received our newly increased property tax appraisals for our ranch here in the boonies. While we don’t like the idea of their going up at all, especially since most of the money goes to the schools and we are childless, the taxes are still a tiny fraction of what they would be in the PRC.

It seems that our county tax collector’s office has the same work principle as most of the mass media in this country; where it’s much more important to be fast than to be accurate. There is supposed to be a limit on the increase of 10% per year. Since the most recent reappraisals were three years ago, the cap is 30% in this go-around. Not everyone can do percentages in their head, or even with a calculator. However, some increases are just so obviously out of whack that anyone should notice. For example, according to this article, one man’s property went up from $300 to $14,000 (an increase of 4,667%), and another from $1,000 to $27,100 (up 2,710%). When he called to complain, he was told that they already knew his numbers were screwed up, but they had to get the new appraisals out in the mail by a certain date regardless of whether or not they were correct. How many people had the crap scared out of them from these erroneous bills? How many are going to just pay the inflated amounts without bothering to question them?

It may or may not be connected, but this is the same county that has been so desperate for cash that they have forced my favorite charity, Turpentine Creek Wildlife Foundation, to pay taxes on its property in complete disregard for the standard exemption given to other more politically connected charities.

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