“If at First You Don’t Succeed . . . “

Maybe they’ll try again.

That’s my reaction to the news that North Dakota voters overwhelmingly rejected a constitutional amendment yesterday that would have eliminated that state’s property tax.

To be fair, energy-rich (and financially flush) North Dakota is in a better position than most states to even consider such a move.

But, the philosophical argument for eliminating property taxes — or at least restraining them, unlike a certain very large Minnesota city I can think of — is fundamentally sound.

In a nutshell, it’s that taxes should be levied first on income, then on consumption, and finally — and only to the extent necessary — assets.

Taxes & Public Policy

Personally, I have no qualms whatsoever imposing — effective yesterday — a special surtax on people making more than $1 million annually.

If you’re in that lucky financial sliver, you can shoulder a greater financial burden when the country you live in is effectively broke.

By contrast, taxing assets does a poor job of matching government’s legitimate need to raise funds with citizens’ wherewithal to pay.

Unless of course you’re talking about excise taxes on estates bigger than, say, $50 million, which I’d also endorse.   

But assets — and specifically, homes — are in a special category.

Plus, on a purely practical level, taxing (and overtaxing) homes is a terrific way to drive people out of urban areas with aging housing stock that desperately need all the young families and school age children they can attract.

Oh . . . and retirees aren’t too keen on seeing their assets taxed, either.

P.S.:  For examples of how ridiculous Minneapolis property taxes have become, seeMinneapolis Upper Bracket Homes?  “What a piTi”; “Never Mind the Mortgage — Can the Buyer Afford the Property Taxes?”; “Minneapolis Property Tax Sticker Shock.”

About the author

Ross Kaplan has 19+ years experience selling real estate all over the Twin Cities. He is also a 12-time consecutive "Super Real Estate Agent," as determined by Mpls. - St. Paul Magazine and Twin Cities Business Magazine. Prior to becoming a Realtor, Ross was an attorney (corporate law), CPA, and entrepreneur. He holds an economics degree from Stanford.

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