The taxing truth about ‘Truth in Taxation’
Here’s the truth about “Truth in Taxation” public hearings.
They are going to tax us.
Exactly at the amount they tell us is a proposed tax increase.
That’s the truth.
The hearing and public noticing of such tax-increase plans is a requirement of law in Arizona. The fact that the process calls for a public hearing sends the mixed message that your input will actually influence how much your property tax bill will increase in the coming year.
P.T. Barnum should have been the author of Arizona’s “Truth in Taxation” law. The required hearing is nothing more than a charade.
See, the timing for these “Truth in Taxation” hearings comes when the budgets – and tax levy needed to provide the revenue for the spending plan – is basically set in stone.
“Truth in taxation” hearings are unique to governments such as the county, school districts, fire and other special districts that all operate primarily on revenue from property tax. Municipal governments such as those in Cottonwood and Camp Verde don’t play the “Truth in Taxation” game because both operate exclusively on sales tax.
This year in the Verde Valley, the “Truth in Taxation” big hitters are Yavapai County and the Town of Clarkdale. The county has promised an 18% increase in the primary levy next year. Clarkdale will have a modest increase in its primary levy, but it is part of a double whammy that includes a hike in the sales tax as well.
As a result, you’ve been invited to this theater of the absurd called a “Truth in Taxation” hearing. It’s a forum for you to provide your 2-cents on the plan to raise your property tax next year, which in the end will be completely ignored and you’ll see a bump in your property tax bill.
That’s the truth about “Truth in Taxation.”
The one saving grace to this annual farce this year comes from Yavapai County in the form of future food for thought.
The 18% increase in the primary levy fulfills a county promise to do whatever necessary to generate the funding needed to build a new jail on the Prescott side of Mingus Mountain.
But it bears emphasis that this hike in county property tax became necessary because of back-to-back voter rejections of a quarter-cent hike in the county’s jail district sales tax.
There was a misconception among many voters that a ballot box defeat of the jail sales tax increase would be a death blow to the county’s plans to build a new jail.
The county supervisors have since double-downed on that bet. Those who voted against the jail tax increase were left holding a pair of twos.
Now, those same voters need to ask themselves if they want to continue going forward with inflated property taxes every year vs. a quarter-cent bump in the sales tax.
It’s taxation either way.
Which version is less painful for you?
A little truth, please, when it comes to taxation.