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Virginia's Inane Constitutional Amendment

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November 01, 2010 – Comments (23)

Since it's election day tomorrow, I was perusing today what Virgina will be asking me to vote on. Among the items on the ballot is a proposal to amend the Virginia constitution to allow local governments to exempt persons age 65 or over from property taxes. Currently in Virginia one can be exempt if they bear an extraordinary tax burden.

This is inane and it frightens me to think that our General Assembly overwhelmingly endorsed putting it on the ballot.

Consider alone the potential for abuse of power here. Since the exemption is not means tested, politicians can hand it out to donors, friends, or folks whose votes they need. Further, why does it make sense to shift the tax burden disproportionately to the young? Although since older folks tend to vote in greater percentages than younger folks, let's just assume this piece of idiocy will pass.

23 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On November 01, 2010 at 4:42 PM, Turfscape (41.08) wrote:

That...is...so...profoundly short-sighted!

Because it's government, can I assume that they'll be increasing spending at the same time?

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#2) On November 01, 2010 at 4:42 PM, russiangambit (29.45) wrote:

We already have this in Texas. People over 65 are exempt from paying school portion of the property taxes, which is about 70% of the property tax. you certify it on the same paper where you certify it is the primary residence.

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#3) On November 01, 2010 at 4:46 PM, TMFDiogenes (72.48) wrote:

This is the most perfect illustration of what the Tea Party platform has become.

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#4) On November 01, 2010 at 4:47 PM, ChrisGraley (30.30) wrote:

That is a fantastic amendment! Property taxes are regressive to the elderly.

Why do you want to tax grandma so bad?

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#5) On November 01, 2010 at 4:48 PM, TMFMmbop (63.45) wrote:

Why wouldn't you just cut everyone out of the school portion of property tax (included younger people without kids) and then ask people who want to attend public school to pay tuition?

Probably because single, working folks don't have time to complain ad nauseam to their elected officials.

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#6) On November 01, 2010 at 5:11 PM, TMFHousel (94.18) wrote:

Insane. No other words. 

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#7) On November 01, 2010 at 5:27 PM, dbjella (< 20) wrote:

I kind of like the idea of paying someone SS so they can turn around and pay their local property tax.  What would be great is if we could figure out how to have the Fed pay our taxes :)

 

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#8) On November 01, 2010 at 5:40 PM, TMFCrocoStimpy (95.14) wrote:

From a demographic standpoint, we've had this in place in California due to proposition 13 for 30 years.  My neighbors (same age, same income bracket as myself) pay <1/5 the property taxes I do because they inherited their home from their parents.  Couple across the street (10 years younger than myself, very likely lower income) enjoy paying twice the property tax I pay.  Well intentioned system that has drifted horribly out of whack.

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#9) On November 01, 2010 at 6:02 PM, Turfscape (41.08) wrote:

TMFCrocoStimpy wrote:
"My neighbors (same age, same income bracket as myself) pay <1/5 the property taxes I do because they inherited their home from their parents.  Couple across the street (10 years younger than myself, very likely lower income) enjoy paying twice the property tax I pay."

Wow...sounds like Rent-Controlled apartments in NYC!

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#10) On November 01, 2010 at 7:55 PM, rhallbick (99.71) wrote:

It would be nice if the elderly on low fixed incomes are not forced out of their homes by rising property taxes.  They don't need to be exempt, but many of the elderly can no longer contribute as much to the general community support as when they were young, healthy and working.

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#11) On November 01, 2010 at 9:41 PM, devoish (99.10) wrote:

TMFMmbop,

Unless I misunderstand the amendment it allows local Governments in Virginia to set their own "means standard" for the property tax exemption. It does not have the potential for favoritism you suggested.

Except in respect to the favoritism it shows toward low income seniors.

A quick look at income data among those aged 65 and older in your State shows 34% of your seniors living on less than $15k/year.

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#12) On November 01, 2010 at 9:57 PM, starbucks4ever (98.98) wrote:

I wonder, if they propose an amendment to abolish all taxes, will they get 100% of the popular vote? 

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#13) On November 02, 2010 at 6:45 AM, outoffocus (23.66) wrote:

I knew VA was nuts when I saw that there was a tax deduction for political contributions.  I mean are they serious?  A deduction for a legalized bribe?

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#14) On November 02, 2010 at 11:52 AM, TMFMmbop (63.45) wrote:

@devoish

Current law allows someone to qualify for an exemption if they bear an extraordinary tax burden as deemed by the General Assembly for the whole state. Fine. Let's not try to impoverish people.

Proposed amendment would cross-out that language and replaced it with "A local governing body may be authorized to establish either income or financial worth limitations, or both, in order to qualify for such relief."

So, yeah, a local body could set up a means test, but this amendment certainly isn't requiring them to. Further, who's to say local governments, to abuse power, wouldn't set the means test at a very high level.

$15k also goes pretty far in certain parts of Virginia, particularly if you already own a home and don't have to pay any taxes on it. But c'mon, any time we have the chance to make the tax code less fair and more complicated, we have to do it.

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#15) On November 02, 2010 at 12:47 PM, ChrisGraley (30.30) wrote:

Wait, aren't property taxes local?

Wouldn't it make sense to allow the local governments choose the exemptions?

If a local government is unfair with the exemptions won't people move to other locations that are more fair?

Isn't the locality entitled to control it's own revenue flow?

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#16) On November 02, 2010 at 3:28 PM, outoffocus (23.66) wrote:

ChrisGraley 

There are only 2 localities in Virginia, Northern VA and everywhere else.

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#17) On November 02, 2010 at 3:40 PM, russiangambit (29.45) wrote:

I think seniors should be exempt. They no longer work so where are they going to get 10-15K to pay property taxes? Even if they are house paid for they no longer can stay in it because they can't afford property taxes. In the end it is like a second mortgage on yoru house, only you can never pay it off.

 

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#18) On November 02, 2010 at 5:01 PM, AbstractMotion (54.25) wrote:

I'm happy to say I just got back from the polls and voted against this amendment.  As mentioned above seniors can already qualify for exemptions if they meet the State's means testing criteria.  If you're wealthy enough to own property, you're wealthy enough to pay the same taxes on it that everyone else does.

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#19) On November 02, 2010 at 6:47 PM, MegaEurope (23.80) wrote:

I voted no on both property tax amendments.  Low income senior citizens and disabled veterans get plenty of government money already.  News flash: If you're living in a house you can't afford, you should move.

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#20) On November 02, 2010 at 8:47 PM, TMFMmbop (63.45) wrote:

As I predicted, 80% of voters have currently approved this amendment. Sigh.

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#21) On November 02, 2010 at 9:09 PM, devoish (99.10) wrote:

The voters did well. Virginia is a big State, and a Statewide means test cannot adjust for local conditions as well as authorizing local Governments to set the financial levels for that means test.

Since the exemption is not means tested, politicians can hand it out to donors, friends, or folks whose votes they need

Whatever income level or financial worth level that local goevrnments use for this means test, it will apply to their donors, friends, folks whose votes they need, (Democracy - right?) political enemys, political enemys donors and everyone who flushes a local toilet below those means tests.

$15k also goes pretty far in certain parts of Virginia, particularly if you already own a home and don't have to pay any taxes on it.

And that is exactly the point of the amendment. In the localities where the $15k does not go very far the local government can set a higher means level.

But c'mon, any time we have the chance to make the tax code less fair and more complicated, we have to do it.

On this point I agree with you, complicating the tax codes further is, in general, not a good idea. But this does not seem to complicated to me.

I hope i made you feel better about the amendment.

Plus you got ChrisGraley and me to agree on something, and that is always a tough trick to pull off, so congratulations for that.

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#22) On November 03, 2010 at 1:04 PM, RonChapmanJr (96.84) wrote:

"There are only 2 localities in Virginia, Northern VA and everywhere else."

Not true.  Newport News foreva!

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#23) On December 07, 2010 at 4:17 PM, N8theGr88 (< 20) wrote:

I just want to make my comments heard so here goes...Back a few election cycles in California there was a Parcel Tax proposed that would charge a mere 10 dollars per parcel...the tax was to protect mountain lions... an apartment building with 60 units would pay 1 parcel, a single unit home too would pay the same 10 dollars as would a 1000 acre ranch.  But a cattle rancher in the next valley where a large number of parcels were fenced together to run the cattle would have to pay 10 dollars on each parcel, so if this peticular Rancher had say 100 parcels grouped to get to say 1000 acres he would have to pay 1000 dollars to protect the lion killing his cows.  This is probably not an issue for all Land Taxes....but how about the Pump Taxes levied against a household that has a well...the Parcel or Property with say 3 acres or 3000 acres alike must pay for the water they pump from the ground at some specified rate...say 20 dollars and acre foot of water....while the land owner with 3 acres is contributing to the water table to the tune of acreage X Rainfall or say it rains 12 inches a year times 3 acres thats 3 acre ft of water put in the ground via perculation and like wise the 3000 acre parcel with 12 inch rain fall puts 3000 acre ft of water into the water table...seems like the water is already his why should he pay for water his land contributed...he already pays property tax for the priviledge of putting water in the resevoir ...let me go on record as being apposed to any property tax....the only fair tax is a head tax...if you want to exclude old or young....fine exclude widows fine...lets get it right we have been going down hill for 200 years now sliding into the pit of lazy serfs are in charge of making the rules.

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