Government, Not Property Values, Make Taxes Go Up

Published May 22, 2006

Dear Editor:

How could the Northwest Herald explain rising property taxes without mentioning local government spending? (“Is your patience taxed?” May 22)

Property taxes go to public schools, cities and villages, and other local governments. The more they spend, the more they tax.

Yet the newspaper says our taxes are going up because “you’re not sharing the tax burden with more valuable commercial and industrial property” and points out that residential property pays 80 percent of McHenry County’s property taxes. Would you rather pay 80 percent of a $1,000 bill ($800) or 65 percent of a $1,500 bill ($975)? Because local government spending keeps growing, the dollar amount of taxes paid by homeowners likely will climb, even if the percentage of the tax burden paid by homeowners drops.

The paper also says, “If your home’s value grew, your bill will increase.” Nearly every home in McHenry County has seen its value grow, so nearly every homeowner should expect tax increases? This is what local officials want us to believe, but it is false. Rising property values do not force local officials to ask for more tax dollars.

From long experience I have learned local government officials will blame high property taxes on township tax assessors, rising property values, the state tax multiplier, residential property … anything except their own spending decisions. Ultimately, local government spending is all that matters.

Steve Stanek
McHenry, IL

Steve Stanek ([email protected]) is managing editor of Budget & Tax News, a national monthly newspaper of The Heartland Institute.