Wonder why they didn't ask any poor people what they thought?
Overall, this article in the Sun-Sentinel about property taxes is solid. It explains why property tax bills for many are going up instead of down, and why some cities are opting out of the state's tax relief clause (short answer--it's that or cut services, which their constituents say they don't want). But the story falls short when it quotes local homeowners. They chose two, Michael Ettus and Seth Kuker, both of Hollywood. What do they have in common? They're both living in homes that cost over $400,000, and are both complaining about their tax bills. Neither, of course, notes that they weren't forced to buy such expensive homes. First, Mr. Ettus:
Michael Ettus of Hollywood was stunned when he learned he will likely owe $7,000 in property taxes on a condo he purchased last year for $440,000. He doesn't know how he can afford it along with the tax bill on his old home. He has been trying to sell the old place, and unload its $5,600 tax bill, to no avail. He already works two jobs.
"They did nothing to help," Ettus said of the Legislature. "They have destroyed the state and are chasing everyone out. There will be a mass exodus and people will be giving their property back to the bank as they leave."
It's hardly the legislature's fault that you made a poor choice in buying a condo last year before you'd sold your other home, especially since everyone (but your realtor) was saying that the boom was over and that the market was soft. Or are you saying it's the government's responsibility to make sure you can sell your house for a profit even when you make a bad decision? Hell, I'm practically a communist and I wouldn't argue that. It's not the legislature who's screwed up the property tax system--it's people like you who bought into the inflated value of real estate who did that. And forgive me if I don't shed a tear for someone who can afford, even on two jobs, to own two homes in south Florida. You don't have money trouble. The single mother working two jobs trying to pay rent in a crappy neighborhood in this bloated market has money problems.
Now, Mr. Kuker:
Seth Kuker of Hollywood is among those who think the relief is far from what taxpayers need. The taxes on his $550,000 house in the Hollywood Hills neighborhood are slated to drop from $10,300 to $9,500.
"In the scheme of life, this savings is nothing," he said. "I'm paying $10,000 a year in taxes and my insurance is $5,000 to $6,000. That's a lot of money. These politicians have a responsibility to help the citizens. They should find a way to make sure everyone pays no more than a reasonable amount and that is not happening."
If you can buy a $550,000 home, you ought be able to afford the taxes on it. Your tax bill is less than 2% of the value of your home. I'm not shedding a tear for you either. But then again, I'm a filthy class warrior, who thinks that we're not soaking the wealthy enough as it is.
There are lots of people who need some property tax relief--people who have lived in the same house for 25 years, who bought when you could be middle to lower-middle income and buy a house down here, whose values soared so quickly that they couldn't buy their own houses today if they wanted, and for whom the tax bills are a true burden. Why couldn't these reporters find any of those people to talk to, instead of these high-income, high property value whiners? I don't know, but if they want some names, I can give them a couple.
Labels: Florida property taxes