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Have you ever considered the legitimacy of property taxes? It’s one thing for the government to take a cut from your income, but there’s something deeply offensive about the idea of property taxes. It’s the idea that you have to pay your local government, year after year for the rest of your life, for something you’ve already paid in full. It’s complete nonsense.
It calls into question whether you even own your property in the first place. After all, do you really own it if you have to keep paying for it? It seems to closely resemble the medieval system of serfdom. The peasants didn’t own the land they worked on. They had to pay a yearly fee for the right to work that land, which went towards the nobles and knights. It was protection money. So at least they had the benefit of protection from the warrior class in those societies. Can you say the same of your local police?
Who Really Owns Your Home?: Detroit Preparing to Foreclose on 142,000 Residents By 2016
Property taxes in the United States originated during colonial times. By 1796, state and local governments in fourteen of the fifteen states taxed land, but only four taxed inventory (stock in trade). Delaware did not tax property, but rather the income from it. In some states, "all property, with a few exceptions, was taxed; in others, specific objects were named. Land was taxed in one state according to quantity, in another according to quality, and in a third not at all. Responsibility for the assessment and collection of taxes in some cases attached to the state itself; in others, to the counties or townships." Vermont and North Carolina taxed land based on quantity, while New York and Rhode Island taxed land based on value. Connecticut taxed land based on type of use. Procedures varied widely.
During the period from 1796 until the Civil War, a unifying principle developed: "the taxation of all property, movable and immovable, visible and invisible, or real and personal, as we say in America, at one uniform rate." During this period, property taxes came to be assessed based on value. This was introduced as a requirement in many state constitutions.
After the Civil War, intangible property, including corporate stock, took on far greater importance. Taxing jurisdictions found it difficult to find and tax this sort of property. This trend led to the introduction of alternatives to the property tax (such as income and sales taxes) at the state level. Property taxes remained a major source of government revenue below the state level.
Hard times during the Great Depression led to high delinquency rates and reduced property tax revenues. Also during the 1900s, many jurisdictions began exempting certain property from taxes. Many jurisdictions exempted homes of war veterans. After World War II, some states replaced exemptions with "circuit breaker" provisions limiting increases in value for residences.
Various economic factors have led to taxpayer initiatives in various states to limit property tax. California Proposition 13 (1978) amended the California Constitution to limit aggregate property taxes to 1% of the "full cash value of such property." It also limited the increase in assessed value of real property to an inflation factor that was limited to 2% per year.
It calls into question whether you even own your property in the first place. After all, do you really own it if you have to keep paying for it? It seems to closely resemble the medieval system of serfdom