Why Do Politicians Fight Against Reassessment?

The obvious facts are that the people in charge of taxation don’t care if they get 75% of their money from one person and 25% from another even though both own properties of equal value, as long as they get 100% and don’t jeopardize elections. Voters are inflamed when their taxes are raised and local politicos fear that new and current market values set by county-wide reassessment will raise tax bills and they fear for their electoral survival. So they invent false reasons why reassessment is bad and scare the taxpayers with misleading information about the effects of reassessment.

Reassessment is not intended to raise taxes. It is intended to make taxes fair for all property owners. State law requires that reassessment should be revenue neutral. That does not mean your taxes won’t go up if you have been under assessed prior to the re-evaluation, and now must pay your fair share based on the accurate market value of your property. The people who have been undervalued and thus under-assessed are those who experience the so called “sticker shock” when they get their tax bill after reassessment, and many of them are the ones who squawk the loudest. To avoid losing votes, the politicos avoid the process of reassessment. In other words let someone else pay my fair share.

The fact is that many counties have not reassessed in decades. They continued an assessment system that did not reflect current market values and was the direct cause of some taxpayers paying less than their fair share and others to pay more than their fair share. The messengers of the facts of the unfair tax system were vilified, when in fact the real cause of the problems were the politicians who were afraid to order a countywide reassessment to correct the gross inequities because it would seem that political survival has outweighed the public’s right to fair taxation.

Based on past history, it is unlikely that state representatives will cut political ties at home and offend local vote producing connections to enact a new law that will require timely countywide reassessments, and shake the structure of political back-scratching. That leaves the taxpayer waiting for county officials with true grit to appear or, for some taxing body or taxpayer to feel the pinch themselves and file suit for a countywide reassessment as was done in Allegheny and a few other counties.

The only other remedy for the over assessed taxpayer is the statutory appeal. I’ll save that topic for another blog post!

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