Asheville – The other day as I was turning the pages of a local newspaper I came across an article that was headed, “Buncombe tries to fix its property tax appraisal system.” I thought it might shed a little light on a subject that is constantly being bantered about, so I decided I would peruse through it. Unfortunately, the only light it shed was that of a seriously weak flickering candle.
It seems the county intends to spend “an additional $844,000” this next year to improve the appraisal process. One of the big problems, as stated, was that Buncombe appraisers did not know the quality of the homes’ interiors. And to compound the problem, it seems that each county worker (on appraisal team) is responsible for over 10,000 properties each. Moreover, each home owner is legally obligated to tell a ‘tax assessor” when and if they make significant improvements to their home and surrounding property. They need to do this so the county can assess proper financial penalties to each homeowner for the improvements they made. This is heralded as a method whereby wealthy property owners won’t get an unfair tax break.
The more I thought about this, the more ludicrous and preposterous the entire undertaking seemed. Not that it is unusual, mind you. It seems to be taking place throughout our nation’s taxing entities as though it simply has to be done. However, what seems to me should be done is that some simple thinking should be devoted to the entire affair to see what in the devil is really needed. Should we really be penalizing homeowners who are fixing up and beautifying their homes? Shouldn’t we instead be finding some way to reward them. They should be given some sort of tax beautification credit; after all, the additional expenditure they made somehow has added to the overall value of the properties around them.
Doesn’t it somehow seem more logical that the taxable value – the market value – of the property should be simply what you paid for it. Your improvements would be marketed at their new value to whomever purchased it next. We need to stop pussyfooting around with trying to do what cannot be properly done and getting everyone all shook up. My point is that the actual assessment value of one’s property isn’t realized until it has sold. A revamping of our tax system might provide a more equitable solution while also enabling property owners the right to improve their property without the existing penalty. Taxes, if really needed, can be raised in other ways – i.e, value added taxes.
It reminds me of the tale of the ants. If you take a large jar and put 100 black ants in it and then put 100 fire ants in it, nothing much will happen. However, if someone comes along and shakes up the jar, then all the ants will start fighting each other, not really knowing what happened or why. What they should be fighting is the thing or person that shook up the jar; however, they are too busy fighting each other to figure that out.