Select reader responses to the question: Should the state lift the 1 percent property-tax cap?
The Seattle Times recently asked readers, “Should the state lift the 1 percent property-tax cap?” The cap restricts taxing districts to a property-tax increases to 1 percent, or $10 for every 1,000 of assessed property value. This cap does not apply to local levies.
The question to readers followed a guest column from political activist Tim Eyman, who argued, “There’s been an overwhelming vote of the people and even a broader legislative vote to make the 1 percent cap limit the law.” And public-affairs consultant and former chairman of the state Republican Party Chris Vance wrote, “Capping revenue growth at 1 percent a year makes it virtually impossible for the county to even keep up with inflation.” Both columnists debated their points of view in a live video chat on The Times’ website. Watch a replay here:
Below are select reader responses to the question:
An uneven source of revenue
Of course no one wants to pay taxes, but we all want the services that taxes provide. A cap on taxes is arbitrary and results in distortions in spending that no one wants.
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Local school levies and bonds authorize a fixed amount of taxes across the district over many years. Changes in assessed values will not proportionately increase the total taxes collected. And new construction will actually decrease the taxes for each existing property because the new properties will relieve some of the total burden.
Jerry Fraser, Lynnwood
Hurts low-income residents
Absolutely not. As a property manager of multi-family properties, namely mobile-home parks, I provide a much-needed source of low-income housing wherein people can actually own their own homes. As such, rent increases are cautiously given since the tenant base can’t bear significant increases.
The state can’t have it both ways. It wants to encourage low-income housing, which in many locations is near marketplace rents, and it wants more in property taxes. Neither the property owner nor the tenant can afford unpredictable and excessive tax increases.
Cristina Dugoni, Kirkland
Wages have been stagnant
Just because home values may rise, this does not mean that the homeowners’ incomes rise as well. Household budgets become increasingly tax-burdened without any increase in personal income, especially for fixed-income residents.
Dave Olson, Renton
Voters’ opinion is clear
No. The voters have spoken clearly in the past and their views should be adhered to.
David Huey, Bellingham
Create exemption for low-income residents
No. Since I am retired and live on a fixed income, my income does not even keep up with the rising costs of food and utilities — I can’t afford to live in a retirement home for exactly the same reasons. Anyone with an income of less than $50,000 (for a single person) should have their property taxes frozen at their current rate as is done in many other states.
lan Bollen, Marysville
Look to California
Yes. If you want a long-term picture, look at California. I’ve seen what happened to California since Proposition 13 in 1978. It’s been very ugly for everyone, not just the homeowners at the time.
By the way, the entire Southeast (including Texas) funds many services using property taxes.
Pamela Moore, Tacoma
Create reliability in tax system
Chris Vance and Tim Eyman are both right. Why not start on common ground and allow for the fact that revenue growth is a fact of life in line with the Federal Reserve’s target mission for growing the national economy?
Then apply a common-sense approach to allow for that reality. Not only would government function better when it can reliably plan around consistent revenue streams, but businesses would also be able to plan more easily without having to wonder where the next invented tax is going to appear and force them to redraw how and where to claim revenues every other year.
Ben Fraser, Seattle
Cap increases need for levies
What the 1 percent cap actually does is force city and county districts to use voter-approved levies, technically called excess levies, to adequately fund operations — or to use other vehicles, such as creating transportation districts.
Travis Stombaugh, Enumclaw