John Dorso: End Of The Year Thoughts On Taxes

As we approach the end of the year I have to take time to plan for the eventualities of the coming year.  One of the big things is to do some tax planning.  Yes I have to make Federal estimate tax payments.  Which in and of itself usually raises my blood pressure.

I often wonder how much of this oversized Federal government we tax payers have to pay for?  If the statistics are correct those of who have to pay are carrying more than are fair share.

[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#000000″ txt_color=”#ffffff”]”Just because some think that property tax isn’t fair wouldn’t motivate me to waste billions trying to keep local governments from overtaxing their citizens.  If the legislature thinks the local officials are soaking the taxpayers they should limit the taxing authority of the political subdivisions.”[/mks_pullquote]

Then I wonder if all those who are rioting and causing civic unrest are picking up their share.  If this has you thinking that Rev. Al Sharpton, a scam artist, tax dodger and worse, should be in prison not visiting the White House, I’m with you.

Then I think about North Dakota spending billions on property tax buy downs.  Just because some think that property tax isn’t fair wouldn’t motivate me to waste billions trying to keep local governments from overtaxing their citizens.  If the legislature thinks the local officials are soaking the taxpayers they should limit the taxing authority of the political subdivisions.  It has been done before by the legislature.

Check the history of the taxing authority of school districts.  Years ago the only school district with an unlimited mill levy was Fargo.  An accident that I was told came from the fact it existed pre the states constitution.  I have plenty of problems with the political subs ability to raise revenue.  If you try to limit the mill levy they increase evaluations.  Another scam is to force property owners to pay for utilities as they are annexed even though they paid cash for the facilities to be put in when outside of the cities limits.

Then there is the latest scam that says if you don’t pay a fee for parks etc. they won’t let you change the zoning of the property.  Some would call it a taking and I think it is high time someone takes that scam to court or the legislature deals with the problem.   The legislature has the authority to require the political subs to be even handed in their application of property taxes and fees.  From laws surrounding tax evaluations to exemptions granted to certain properties I can cite all kinds of parts of the Century Code dealing with property tax.

The idea that the state should spend billions because of some unhappy property owners just rubs me the wrong way.  We are throwing billions at a problem, if it is a problem, on something that could be dealt with by passing some statutes that wouldn’t cost the state treasury a dime.

I also agree with Rob about the state not funding all of social services at the county level.  We need the county commissioners to keep an eye on their people that provide that service at the local level.

[mks_pullquote align=”left” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#000000″ txt_color=”#ffffff”]”Rob’s conclusion that in the end the local officials will just find another way to spend the money rather than give real tax relief has been proven time again.”[/mks_pullquote]

I’ll guarantee that if the state funds the entire cost of social services at the county level it won’t be long and the all ready bloated Dept. of Human Services will need its own building.  When the county has to pick up part of the tab commissioners don’t mind coming to Bismarck, during the session, crying to the legislature about the unreasonable costs DHS is putting on them.  I thought that was healthy when I served and I still do.

If legislators think DHS is costing the counties too much because of rules and regulations then do something about it at the state level, they do have alternatives available to them on that front?  Rob’s conclusion that in the end the local officials will just find another way to spend the money rather than give real tax relief has been proven time again.

While in North Dakota I visited with a number of legislators and I asked all of them an important question.  How much of North Dakota’s assessed property is actually held by absentee landlords

No one could answer the question.

The farmers and ranchers I visited with were asked how much of the land they used was their own.  Almost all said less than half.  My next question was, is your cash rent based in any part on the taxes?  The answer was that it is based on the commodities market.  Cattle prices increase and pasture rent increases, crop prices go up so does the rent.  Where does the majority of the property tax relieve end up?

That is an answer that can be ascertained by going to the counties property tax records.  I think it is time for them to do just that.  If they find out that it is absentee landlords and corporations that own a vast proportion of the taxable evaluation across the state then it is time to get rid of the personal income tax and cut and run from the present course on property tax.  Many out of state people might get an income tax break but the wage earner in North Dakota will be the beneficiary they should be caring about.

From our family to you and yours we wish you a Merry Christmas.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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