(I offer this "campaign" to anyone interested in pursuing this issue.)
First time visitors to this page may feel that the idea of replacing all property tax with consumption tax is an outrageous -- or at best -- an unnecessary goal. I hope to convince you otherwise.
This project is a work in progress, and to call it a campaign at this point requires a bit of imagination. Still, some boxes of tea thrown into Boston Harbor started quite a ruckus, didn't they? Eventually, if people offer their support, we may list links to all types of information and resources. For now, let's review some thoughts about the pros and cons of property tax.
The Case for Property Tax
We'll give the short answer here. It's a simple and effective means for localities to raise revenue for important services such as water, sewage, fire departments, police, etc. and etc. All very valid things that no one wants to see decline.
The more people move into an area, and build properties, the more the "tax base" expands, and the wealthier the city becomes. It makes sense, and it works.
The Case for the
Total Replacement of Property Tax
Just think of how much you would like to own your own home (if you don't now) or how much you like owning your own home (if you currently own one.) It feels great, doesn't it? A family's home is their castle; their bastion of security; in some cases the place they would like to remain for all their days.
Take a typical home...
The family worked hard to raise the money to buy it, and finally paid the mortgage off completely. It's their's -- or so they think.
With property tax on their home sweet home, the house and land actually, in a functional sense, belong to the city or town that has attached property tax to the property. In a nutshell, your city owns your home, and "rents" it to you.
If you don't pay the property tax, they will come and take it away from you. Period.
Now think for a moment about the same home without any property tax attached to it. You've paid for it, and you own it. There are no liens attached. No debts. No property tax. No one owns it except you. Now imagine for a moment that you fall on hard times. You may not have any money, but you have a place to live. You can hole up in your lovely home for the rest of your life and no one can take it away from you. It feels good, doesn't it?
From this point of view, the idea of attaching property tax to your home sweet home absolutely violates and nullifies the ideal and right of every individual to own their own home.
With property tax, private ownership is eliminated.
Think about it -- with property tax, even after you've paid someone for your home, you have to pay City Hall forever, in order to remain living there. Forever and ever and ever.
It's not a very secure feeling, is it?
Replace Property Tax with Consumption Tax
Everybody understands that cities have to keep running. They have to get their money from somewhere. (Helping them cut their budgets is another campaign.)
Let's just not have to pay again and again for the same item. AND ... let's make sure that we really do own our homes, cars and other items of property.
So... it would seem that the only other sources of revenue are the much hated income tax (we won't even think about it!) -- or the levying of a reasonable consumption tax.
Frankly, the consumption tax can be attached to many types of purchases, in quite a large way. For example, when one has to buy a house for $100,000, let the city attach a consumption tax of some figure (for example, $10,000.) That's just an example, and may be too high, or too low, depending on the city's budget and the ratio of other consumption taxes.
(We already pay a LOT of tax at the gas pump and we hardly ever think about it.)
The issue is that we should only be taxed on what we consume and NOT on our income (which often isn't enough, and hurts way too much) and NOT on our property, throughout eternity. We pay only ONCE. Period.
Because everyone has to spend money on many different items, the city will have a constant stream of revenue.
Things that Shouldn't Be Taxed:
Food, Clothing, Medicine and Necessities
One of the big problems with tax is that the legislators who pass the tax laws, and the tax collectors who collect them, have often left their hearts at the door of their tax offices.
People who are suffering economically should not be taxed unduly -- they simply can't afford it. While this issue should have (but really hasn't yet) impacted the levels of income tax currently levied, it also applies to consumption tax.
The realm of human suffering isn't a Democrat or Republican issue -- it's an issue of heart that belongs to everyone. Public policy must base its content on the heart of unselfish regard for all human beings -- if it does, heart will direct public policy in a direction of goodness.
Taxing necessities like food, clothing (at least non-luxury clothing), medicine, and other items has too much potential to be a cause of suffering. Let the person who needs to eat buy food without any extra tax attached to it -- it's a reasonable and unselfish thing to do.
National v. Local Level Laws
One way to implement the replacement of property tax with consumption tax is to create a wave of public opinion that will then influence each locality, one city at a time. Frankly, that's too slow, and fraught with the probability that "XYZ City" will just say no -- and merrily keep taxing the property of its citizens. Of course if the citizens "vote the bums" out, they can change things -- but moving the citizens of each and every town is a mammoth job.
A more efficient method would be to pass federal legislation that would outlaw property tax, and require consumption taxes to be implemented instead. This might require a Constitutional review or amendment -- but so be it. It's worth all the sweat and effort that it will take.
For that reason - I present ...
The Replace Property Tax Campaign
What You Can Do!!!
It's simple, at this point.
Print this article out, and mail it to everyone and anyone you can, including the folks in power:
- Your Congressmen and Senators
- Your Mayor and City Council
- Your Governor and State Legislators
- Your Friends and Fellow Activists
- Your Newspapers and Media Outlets
- (and anyone else you care to!)
Here's to the victory of the total replacement of property tax everywhere!
This is (C) Copyrighted 1998 by Peter F. Brown,
with All Rights Reserved Worldwide
BUT ... you can reprint it as much as you like.
Just make sure to attribute it to its source.
ALSO NOTE: If you plan to EMAIL this article to legislators, etc, in light of the recent proliferation of SPAM, please insert a leading paragraph that the email is coming from you, not me :-).
Send Comments to:
Peter F. Brown