The thought of owning one’s own home is a pleasant prospect, one that many people think they will someday accomplish, but the truth is, there’s no such thing. The simple fact of the matter is that no one can ever really own their own home, because even if they buy their home with cash, even if they never have a mortgage payment, they will still be paying rent for that home the rest of their lives. Of course it isn’t called rent, it’s called “property tax” and while owning a home also gives you the right to sell it and make decisions on what you will and won’t allow there, that is where your ownership stops. No matter how long you own your house in this country, you will still be paying rent to the government forever.
First let me plainly state that I am not suggesting getting rid of property tax altogether. Let’s face it, the government does need tax dollars to keep the country running, I am merely proposing that we alter the way the property tax system works. For starters, I don’t think people should be punished for taking care of their homes. The nicer and more well kept your house is, the higher your appraisal is and consequently, the higher your taxes are. Yet, people who don’t bother to take care of their home, are rewarded with lower taxes.
Instead a house should be appraised when it is bought and it should stay at that appraisal until they sell it or die. Once the house is on the market or changing hands, they can appraise it again to take into account any improvements that have been made. In the case of land purchases, they can do the initial land appraisal, then appraise it again later once the house is built.
Also, shouldn’t there be some kind of break if a person lives in the same house for most of their life? There should be a cut-off point of say 40-45 years. If a person buys a house and lives in it for that long, then after the cut-off point they should be able to dwell tax free for the rest of their lives. Most people would be getting up there in years after having lived in the same house for 40 years anyway, and it would be a nice way to take care of our elders. They might have to light the house with candles, but at least they’d have a roof over their heads. People like our grandparents, who have gotten too old work, wouldn’t have to worry about losing their homes due to being unable to pay the taxes. Then of course, once the owner moved or died, even if they leave the house to someone, the 40 year tax cycle starts all over again.
Another benefit would be a pre-payment option. If someone planned to stay in their home 40 years or more, they could pay all 40 years worth of taxes ahead of time, perhaps even getting some sort of reduced rate as a reward for paying it early. That way, as they did get older, if they ended up unable to work, they’d already have their house paid for and wouldn’t have to worry about that at least. And again, once the ownership of the house changed hands for any reason, the tax cycle would begin anew.
The government would not lose that much money with such a system, and a lot of the citizens would benefit greatly. It might even help the economy (not that I believe in that either), as people could spend their money instead of saving it for taxes. Perhaps if the government stops spending money on the failing war against drugs, they could afford to relieve people of the burden of property tax. Stopping the spending on the war against drugs would save the government millions of dollars each year; that should be enough money to compensate for the small percentage of property taxes they’d lose.