Liberals Have Selective Memory When It Comes To Who Really Pays Taxes


It’s interesting when the left talks about taxes.

Over the weekend Grand Forks Herald publisher Mike Jacobs wrote about property taxes, and the need to give renters property tax relief. “Renters are a special case, however, because they pay the property tax indirectly, as part of their rent checks,” writes Jacobs. “Rents haven’t gone down even though the Legislature has cut property taxes significantly.”

Rents haven’t gone down because the property tax isn’t the only variable in the rent formula. North Dakota also has strong population growth, and so housing in the state right now is at a premium. Even if we stipulate that the state transferring local spending to the state budget is “property tax relief,” it’s unlikely to lower rents in this housing market.

But Jacobs is absolutely right about renters paying the property tax indirectly. The property tax is overhead for landlords, and they pass that overhead on to their customers – the renters – in the form of higher rents.

What’s interesting is that while North Dakota’s liberals and Democrats harp on the indirect cost of the property tax, they also harp about things like corporate tax relief.

Left-wing opposition to corporate tax relief in North Dakota is best summed up by this March, 2013 letter to the editor by state Senator George Sinner (who is one of these days going to get around to announcing a campaign against Republican House incumbent Kevin Cramer). In it, Sinner derides tax cuts for “corporate interests,” but in truth corporations don’t pay taxes. They pass the cost of those taxes onto their customers in the form of higher prices for goods and services.

Just as landlords pass the property tax on to renters.

This is a truth about taxation that conservatives talk about all the time. It’s interesting to see our friends on the left embrace it only selectively.