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Property Tax Revolt in North Dakota

Written by Gary North on March 27, 2012

The voters of North Dakota are considering the abolition of the property tax. If it does this, it will be the first state to do it. Supporters of the proposal gathered 28,000 signatures.

Local government officials are upset. They see their #1 revenue source disappearing. North Dakota counties get 60% of their revenue from property taxes.

The schools would feel the pinch first.

Some critics say that all of the local governments would go bankrupt. This would place cities and states on state aid.

Supporters say these criticisms are scare tactics.

Oil money is flowing. Supporters ask: Why tax property? The state can impose a sales tax.

Problem: sales taxes are regressive, meaning that everyone pays the same percentage. Liberals have taxes where everyone pays the same percentage.

Eliminating property taxes would put more than $800 million back in the pockets of property owners, stimulate the economy and create thousands of jobs, Tuttle said, referencing this study from a Massachusetts free-market think tank.

“The pitch is very simple. It’s do we want to grow the economy of North Dakota because we can,” Tuttle said. “We’re having the discussion because we have oil money. But the oil money is not what’s going to pay for this. It pays for itself.”

State officials say the sales tax would have to be doubled. Or maybe the income tax would be tripled.

What is clear is that the elimination of property taxes would create enormous confusion at the state level. No one knows how it will sort out politically.

The voters will have a chance to decide. This will let politicians see whether there is a mass movement of upset citizens who want tax relief.

Continue Reading on minnesota.publicradio.org

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39 thoughts on “Property Tax Revolt in North Dakota

  1. SEAN MURRY says:

    A good idea.

  2. Fighting Grandma says:

    Then people might really "OWN" their property without those pesky little RE taxes that allows the county to take your property if taxes are not paid through their "tax sales". Go North Dakota!!! Taking back our country one state at a time…

    • You're exactly right. My boyfriend is from Italy and asked me if I realized that even though my house is paid off that I don't really own it. Currently I have to pay three taxes: city, county and sales tax at 9.7%. What gets me is watching how much the schools waste, and the small city I live in (pop. 125,000) has city officials spending like we're NYC. It's amazing how creative a person can be when they have LESS money. City officials just spend because they know they can always force homeowners to fork over more or risk losing their homes.

  3. I really like the idea. Maybe it will permeate to NH?

  4. Property taxes pay for not only schools but other services at the local level so one would have to weigh the cost of providing those things by only those who use them. Currently, I have access to a junior college library and a local library for which I pay taxes. Most people would not contribute since they don't use the facilities and see no use for them so the ones who do use it will pay exorbitant fees that will probably make it impossible for a family to use it when needed. Other services such as roads, fire protection and many other services would probably cost more in the long run. Although with schools it may cost less. Most religious schools cost far less per student to run than a public school. It is something that would need to be carefully looked at and not something to be willy-nilly. Perhaps the best thing would be to consider which things could be funded more cheaply than using property tax as a means of funding.

    • It seems to me that the schools need a tax of their own. Fuel cost will continue to go up, there’s NO end to that. Let’s think about this for a minute: First thing to do is parents will need to get the kids to school at their cost, not the county. New books upkeep of the building, heating, cooling and lunch meals will need to be supplied by the parents of students. OR here’s an idea! Why not have the children home schooled through the internet. Parents put their children in front of the home computer and they are taught at home by the same teachers that would have taught them at school. This would save a tremendous amount of money! Of course unless the parents are using the schools as “Babysitters” There’s a lot of idea’s out there if people would get together and find their own solutions. STOP waiting and hoping the government will do the right thing and do everything for them. The only idea’s government has is Raise the Taxes and throw money at the problem. They think that will solve every problem

      • Beepster says:

        School taxes aren't anything new. I pay school tax, county tax, city tax, road and bridge tax, sales tax, and income tax. I probably pay a tax by paying my taxes. I agree with Violet that educating kids in private schools cost less. Less gov'ment involved. They're also trying to get rid of home schooling because you might be teaching what the world is really all about, and kids aren't being brain washed.

        • Taquoshi says:

          Portions of New York State have a separate school tax and it really hurts when you pay your property taxes and then get a separate bill for the schools, which for many people, has nothing to do with them since they are retired, don't have children or their children attend private school.

    • LOOK I PAID PROPERTY TAX WHEN MY KIDS WENT TO SCHOOL AND WERE TAUGHT PRETTY GOOD NOW I PAY PROPERTY TAX FOR GREATGRANDKIDS, AND WHAT THEY ARE TAUGHT IS NOT GOOD, PRAYER, GOD, RIGHT AND WRONG ARE GONE, SEX ED DRUGS, DISRESPECT, AND DARN RIGHT WRONG VERY WRONG GARBAGE, AND I NEED MY MONEY THANKS TO OBCARE

    • True, the taxes pay for services, but they also pay for those big, fat healthcare plans, retirement plans, generous vacation and sick days plus you get to "sell" whatever you don't use for a nice fat paycheck too. I pay taxes for local colleges but don't have access to their libraries. Even as a graduate of the college I don't have access.

      The city I live in spent over 1 million bucks for a "sky bridge" over a four lane road instead of putting in a simple push button crosswalk that would have cost 25,000 dollars. The city also approves developments to be created, then AFTER all of the houses are built and people moved in do they decide to widen the roads and improve the water and sewage and then jack up the prices to compensate for their stupidity. If they knew they didn't have a bottomless pot of money to waste, they would be more careful with it. Unfortunately, all they do is either jack up our taxes, or my personal favorite is to say they won't increase taxes, but they significantly increase the value of your home.

    • Taquoshi says:

      The largest city in my state recently separated out a portion of the property tax specifically for the libraries in town. It is equal to whatever one mil of the mill rate is. That was done by referendum two years ago. It's not going well. I don't know what all the problems are, but I was present when the head librarian was asked a simple straight forward question and blew up at everyone. He left after calling everyone in the meeting a racist. The yearly report is due later this week. It should be an interesting meeting.

      I happen to live in the sixth largest municipality in our state. Approximately 62% of our budget goes to the schools, not counting the allocations that the State gives to each school district. After that, the largest portion of the budget is salary and benefits estimated to be around 13% for our city. That already accounts for 75% of the budget and not a penny has been spent on the actual services, i.e. library, parks, roads, sewer, water, police and fire (other than salaries & benefits), etc.

      Rising health care costs have really taken a huge bite out of the budget. One of our major cities (#3 in terms of size) is expecting a 22% rise in health care costs starting July 1st.

      Following those expenses, our Department of Parks and Recreation brings in revenue. However, the money is allocated elsewhere by law. This is true for the Department of Public Works, the Department of Health and Planning and Zoning. Most of those tax dollars go to the schools. If you do the math, you'll see that the actual services you mention don't take up nearly as many tax dollars as you might think. Once you get past the salaries and benefits, the energy and maintenance costs for the buildings comes next in our line items. That's how much it costs to turn the lights on and have heat or AC in the building. Those figures are found in the Operating Budget. Major repairs, like roof replacement, structural upgrades (installation of elevators, ramps, etc. for ADA compliance) or storm damage replacements would be under capital.

      So, you see, there are many, many factors that contribute to the budget. But the major one is the schools, which cost so much because of the union contracts. Look at Wisconsin as an example. Also schools are expanding their roles since they provide health care in the form of school based clinics, social work services, meal plans and athletics.

  5. Deleting property tax is probably a good idea but it would probably be a good idea to reduce 10% each year for ten years instead of dropping it all at once. That would make it possible to reduce government expendatures enough each year to absorb the reduction in income.

  6. Property taxes should be illegal. They place a disproportionate share of taxes on property owners. The fairest form of tax is a straight sales tax; no exemptions/no exceptions – all pay the same rate. Changes to the tax rate only by voter referendum; remove the political chicanery.

    The change from property tax to sales tax would be budget neutral if correctly implemented.

    • Joe: And how will the sales tax be controlled? Who’s to say that the governing bodies won’t decide that 50% is better than 8%? Taxation feeds the government greed. I would never agree to a sales tax unless the voters have a voice in what is being charged. 8% is too high, but I could live with 3 to 5% as a sales tax. Why, because some on fixed incomes cannot afford an 8% tax on their purchases–which includes any transaction they make. If a loaf of bread is $1, you have to factor in the sales tax–and at 8%, that loaf of bread becomes $1.08 total. Sweden’s government was given carte blanc regarding taxes and now the take-home pay is a mere 25% of the gross earned; the government gets .75 cents and you get to keep a lousy quarter! Quite frankly, all taxes are without representation because people have no voice on the amount that is charged…

  7. Sodbuster says:

    If you do away with the property tax, then the personal income tax will pick up some of the burden. Don't forget, localities can also up a % of the sales tax for their coffers as well. Additionally, take a look at the "travel" tax. The income from taxes on hotel stays, rental cars, transportation.

    There are a LOT of means that should be explored before you take away a person's property. After all, why should we have to pay RENT to the government for our own land.

  8. There is a town in the State of Texas that charges home owns inspite of their taxes. They must pay taxes too, but then they get charged anyway for living in that town in addition to the taxes. Funny thing is, there is nothing in this town except for a few restaurants and a walmart store. Then, it turns out to be the highest county in the whole State! There are about 3 or 4 clans that run everything in the county. They can not be voted for or removed in any case at all. No one can do anything about it. However, you can move out of the area.

    I'll not give the name of the town, because they may attack me! However, I'll let the public figure it out! It is said that this town is located within the Heart of Texas! I would also, caution anyone that decides to move there!

  9. Tell Halliburton, et al to pay their fair share. They fleeced the US TAX PAYERS in their "no bid contracts" in the Middle East and now they are raking in billions in eastern N.D.

    The workers go out there and find no housing. It's like the wild west out there….."dog eat dog". So let's stick it to Halliburton…or throw them out and get somebody else in there. I'm sure the Norwegians, who are used to drilling in the North Sea could do a much better job.

    F…! Halliburton

    • DiverDown says:

      I agree… and let's get that Jeff Immelt CEO of General Electric who's got Nobama in his pocket. We are not talking measly half a billion like Solyndra, we're talking HUNDREDS of BILLIONS to GE for "No Bid" windmills that 15-20% are under repair at all times and don't and won't produce enough electricity to EVER pay us, the taxpayer, back. This is the racket: The government takes MY tax dollar, buys windmills that produces less than adequate electricity for the taxpayers ‘investment’. Then sells a subsidize electric company reduced electricity who turns around and sells MY electricity from MY windmill back to ME at a much higher rate!!! WHAT??? Grab your ankles and ask for another! For every dollar 'invested' (tongue in cheek) with GE's and Nobama's 'green energy', we could have had the same energy from natural gas, coal and/or nuclear for 22 CENTS! WITH NEW CLEANER COAL AND NUCLEAR PLANTS!!!!! A scam on the American taxpayer.
      Again, I agree F…! GE

  10. One way to kill a hog like our big, bloated gummints, is to starve it to death. Eliminating taxes is the way.

  11. Watchmen says:

    This would never work in Virginia and North Carolina home to the Personal Property tax
    also the capitals of Fees. Low state taxes and income taxes but many fees to make it almost more expensive than
    New York or California

    Its a shell game of symantics

  12. Politicians have always lied about the need for taxes of every stripe. Watch'em, if their lips are moving they're lying. The sales tax is the only tax that makes sense. If you come spend you pay. Otherwise there is no tax owed for anything. This thought will gain acceptance after obummer is gone and regulation. Is reigned in and santy is restored in the wh. Drill baby drill. Jobs aplenty.

  13. Sad that people like Rik can blog. Halliburtin was a bid contract let by Pres. Clinton. Pres. Bush simply continued it. And what does Halliburton have to do with the thousands of opportunities in ND? It is a free market, adn there are ample service providers there other than Halliburton. Anyone making money (except landowners who take no risk in oil/gas exploration) has invested money and hard work to deliver a product. Guess Rik is just opposed to people who work and are successful. If thereare billions to be made, maybe Rik should go open a competition servie to Halliburton. People do it quite regularly,a nd with success. Being done right now, in places as far afield as Poland even.
    Sorry, Rik just sounds like a mad fool.

  14. Michigan residents pay one of the, if not, highest auto insurance rates in the nation. I would welcome freedom from property taxes in that state.

  15. Drop the property tax, go to a state sales tax. Then property owners are being penalized for owning property and EVERYONE who buys anything helps pay for the taxes/programs of the state. Even ILLEGAL immigrants would have to start helping pay their share of taxes. I see nothing wrong with this idea. I wonder if we can get a petition started in Kansas. GREAT idea.

  16. we definetly need this to happen in massachusetts . we have a bloted state filled with beauracratic paricites that suck off of the tax payers . my town just hired a law firm to start foreclosure proceedings to reach a payment agreement with me for a weasely $16,000.00 in back taxes ,now deduct what the lawyers are taken , what we need to do is reform the gov and get rid of these beauracratic paricites that suck off of tax payers , there nothing more than a bunch of dead beats , we need smaller gov for sure , it;s way out off control .and get rid of the gov unions also , these elected offials work for us'" the tax payer '" it's should be up to us to vote wheather they should have a union or not . ansd i oppse it;s time to take our country back . if these politians don't like it and don't want to work for the people that put them there they can always get another job elsewhere . I HOPE THIS STARTS TO GO ACROSS THE COUNTRY IN ALL THE STATES , LET'S SEND THEM A MESSAGE THEY CAN UNDER STAND .

  17. Jim Meyers says:

    What did states do before income tax in 1913?

  18. This should be started in every state. Here in PA the property taxes (mainly school taxes) are driving seniors from their homes as they can't afford them. The taxes are driven up by the incessant demands of the teachers' unions for higher salaries, pensions and health care costs. We moved back to PA to retire 13 years ago, and our school taxes have gone up over $200 every year. We have contacted our state representatives and previous governors (note I said governors), and everything they pass is so watered down that it gives us very little relief. In Wisconsin they outlawed collective bargaining, and the unions got so upset, they are recalling Governor Walker. In the meantime, taxes have gone down and business has started looking at Wisconsin. If Walker is thrown out in the June recall election, the people of Wisconsin will rue the day as the unions will drive up the taxes so that citizens will have to give up their homes.

    We have just about had it and are strongly considering moving south where the southern states welcome retirees. My niece lives in Cherokee County, GA and when a person reaches the age of 62, they no longer pay school taxes. The state has a VERY generous allowance for income, so we would probably not pay any income tax either. They do have a sales tax, but everyone pays that. I am tired of hearing about how this tax or another affects the lower income people. Many of them don't pay any income tax at all, and those of us that do need a break.

  19. redd_dale says:

    Who the heck wrote this? Very poor wording. I can't even get through reading it let alone understand what the reporter is trying to say. It must suck to show what public/private schools have taught you. Home school rules. Well I will try to finish but it still is all over the place.

  20. FRENCHIE says:

    SHEER BRILLIANCE, NORTH DAKOTA !!! GOD BLESS YOU & GOOD LUCK ON THIS. BY THE WAY, ISN'T THERE SOMETHING BURIED IN THE TAX CODES THAT SAYS SOMETHING ABOUT- IF YOU DON'T LIKE THE WAY THE GOVERNMENT'S BEING RUN, YOU'RE NOT OBLIGATED TO PAY TAXES ? I'VE ALWAYS BEEN TOLD IT'S IN THERE SOMEWHERE, BUT I'LL BE DAMNED IF I'M GONNA TRY TO SORT OUT THAT WHOLE MESS & GIVE MYSELF A MIGRAINE TRYING TO MAKE SENSE OF "GOVERNMENT DOUBLESPEAK" TO FIND IT IN THE TAX CODE. AREN'T THERE PEOPLE WHO'S JOB IT IS TO SORT THAT KIND OF STUFF OUT ? WAIT A MINUTE, THOSE ARE THE JACKASSES THAT SOLD US OUT IN THE FIRST PLACE…SO MUCH FOR THAT IDEA, I GUESS. OH WELL, GOOD LUCK & GODSPEED, NORTH DAKOTA…YOU'VE GOT A NEW FAN IN OHIO !!!!!!!!!

  21. Property Taxes Must Go!

  22. I don't presuppose to know what is best for North Dakota. I'm not familiar with their tax structure, so I don't want to comment on what ND should do. Perhaps, like New Hampshire, they don't have income or sales taxes, so the state is dependent on property taxes to run their government. But I will say this: the most successful and popular sport in the U.S. is pro football. Unlike other sports, pro football equally shares TV revenue so that all teams have a chance to be successful. At one time in this country when unions were strong, we had a strong middle class, united country and fairer distribution of wealth. Now we have seen disparity in wealth between the haves and have nots soar to the greatest level since the robber barons and the country is as divided as its ever been. As the oil income streams into ND and its unemployment rate is one of the lowest in the country, residents may want to consider how best to maintain their prosperity and happiness.

  23. ladybuglw says:

    http://www.petition2congress.c...

    Go to this website and sign the petition to vet Obama and check into his eligibility to be president. Send this to everybody on your mailing list. Ask them to do the same. We need all the signatures we can get.

  24. (Mr.)Lauren says:

    I think there's a danger here. If there are no property taxes, then the rich guys like Soros and Bill Gates can buy up ALL the property and just sit on it with no penalty. Now, if you want a place to live or farm, your only option is to pay rent at a level they decide. You end up with Monopoly Capitalism or Communism – call it what you want – no difference, except in Communism the monopoly has all the guns. Of course, a monopoly capitalist can fix that, too! I'm afraid this could be disastrous! Be aware that "Share Farming" is NOT an easy way to make a living!

  25. Blair Franconia, NH says:

    It started in California in 1978.

  26. http://www.trunews.com with Rick Wiles.
    ***LISTEN***

  27. I think it's a great idea! If you have struggled most of your adult life to buy a home, why does the state,county, or any one else for that matter, have the right to keep taxing you for it? School taxes have long been a bone of contention with me. Let everyone in that community pay for the schools, through a sales tax.
    We have been conditioned to pay big taxes for years, it has to stop. The federal government, thinks that they have an unlimited, source of money to spend. Not so, and we need to hold them accountable for not passing a budget, and sticking to it!
    It is after all, one of their primary responsibilities, to not only pass a budget, but to do so in a timely manner !

  28. madmemere says:

    North Dakota is making a lot of revenue from oil (the Baaken, et. al), if that makes up the difference for lack of RE tax income, then they have no worries! If those revenues don't cover the difference then they should sit down and think it through, instead of going into "panic mode", right off the bat!

  29. T. Jefferson says:

    Liberals must protect their voter base ,those that live off taxpayers, own nothing, do not want responsibility for anything other than going to the mailbox. Property taxes only penalize those who work and try to have something. Liberals will fight higher sales tax tooth and nail, because without property tax even dead beats are made to feel responsible and no longer feel like they are getting something for nothing. They may not even vote Democratic anymore.

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