Very few people love to pay taxes. We pay them because taxes are how we as citizens pay our fair share of funding local government operations.( schools, public safety and roads) Every year, individual and corporate citizens alike are given a statutory opportunity to appeal their property values which they believe are not representative of the property’s true “market value”.
Many times concessions are granted via the appeal process which provide some form of relief. The average taxpayer rarely gets help. The majority of the appeals come from large commercial property owners. Those owners have familiar names to us. You may buy your lumber, home appliance or groceries from one of them.
Most taxing jurisdictions employ some form of “truth in taxation” language in their codes, which prevent windfall taxes being collected during a revaluation/equalization of property values.( As does Tennessee) If the value of property increases, the tax or millage rate will drop to keep the tax levy “revenue neutral.” Statistically, about a third of the properties increase in value, a third will drop and a third remain constant.
The percentage of increase (or decrease) in value is what determines if the actual taxes paid will increase, not the dollar increase on the value. The properties which have the greatest value to begin with will increase the least; so the taxes those property owners pay goes down! The little guy, the average small family, will pay more.
Property taxes are a miniscule expense for large retailers. What is a small expense to a retailer is a major source of revenue to local communities. It is the primary funding source for local education.
The only party who really benefits from the appeal of a big box retailer’s property values are attorneys and tax representatives. These professional litigators have discovered how to get wealthy to the detriment of hard-working taxpayers. Did you know that hundreds of thousands of your tax dollars have already been spent to further lower property taxes on properties that are already paying less in taxes!
The tax dollars which are spent by local communities to defend the equalized property values of large corporations, which already paid less in property taxes after revaluation, could have been spent on the education your children. These companies shift their tax burden further onto your back while spending millions of dollars of their profits on advertising to entice you to buy more of their products.
I believe most people are unaware of what is going on and of its very real negative impact on our communities. The appeal processes were established to correct real errors and address inequities in property valuations. What is happening now is a legal distortion of justice, and it is hurting the customers of these corporations and our communities.
They paid less in property taxes than the prior year following revaluation and now they want you to pay even more in taxes. Perhaps we should consider spending more at our small local stores. These large commercial institutions do not mind having us pay their portion of the property tax to educate the children of their employees. Maybe we should patronize better community citizens? Just something to remember the next time you go shopping.
Rutherford County Tennessee
Assessor of Property