Monday, December 11, 2006

Court battle over 'base year' assessment system starts today

Court battle over 'base year' assessment system starts today The plaintiffs, homeowners from Pittsburgh, Franklin Park, Mt. Lebanon, Braddock and other Allegheny County municipalities, are mounting a 'full frontal challenge' of Allegheny County's 2002 base-year property assessment system, arguing the taxation method violates the Pennsylvania Constitution.

They want to see the county's system -- which relies on property values frozen indefinitely four years ago during the last full reassessment -- declared unconstitutional, and therefore invalid. The state constitution calls for uniform taxation of property.
Uniform is good. Onorato's plan is bad.


Anonymous said...

Uniform is good. Onorato's plan has huge flaws. And yet, he does have a point. As long as every surrounding county has a fixed base year, annual assessments would hurt Allegheny. In theory, it would be nice to see the fixed base year struck down state-wide, but most of the non-metro counties in Pennsylvania would be totally unable to cope with annual (or even occasional) reassessments.

Lynn Swann's plan -- which would fix assessments until the property is sold, at which point it would be fixed at the sale price -- was even worse. It would have rewarded the old folks who stay in their home forever, and punished any new blood that dared to consider living in Pennsylvania.

My own (rather undeveloped) idea would be a fixed-rate levy based simply on the number of square feet of living area on the property, with a separate rate for the overall acreage. That would at least be uniform, but it would still provoke endless howling.

Mark Rauterkus said...

My own plan (hardly mine) but developed soundly, is to tax the land. Tax the dirt -- as in square feet there. Don't mess with the building property (much) if at all.

Reward people who fix up their spaces. Not punish them.

And, punish those that tear down property or just maintain a surface parking lot. We reward those who are doing the least.

The Land Value Tax is much like a TIF for everyone.