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Chas F. Lein, Published March 18 2012

Letter: Real estate tax the most unfair among the many taxes we must pay

It will soon be time to vote on whether to get rid of the real estate tax in North Dakota. There has been much discussion on why this would be bad, but much of that discussion is wrong or misunderstood.

I think the real estate tax is the worst tax we pay. People who have spent a lifetime paying for their house have to keep paying for life because of the real estate tax. Some of them lose their house because of this tax.

If the real estate tax is eliminated, some other means of raising money for our schools, counties and cities will have to be instigated, but what would you rather pay, income tax, sales tax or real estate tax?

Income tax is assessed according to your income, and most low-income people pay little or none. Sales tax is assessed according to how much is spent, and since there is an exemption for food, medical and other necessities, many people pay little or no sales tax. But real estate tax has to be paid no matter what your status.

And don’t think because you are a renter that you pay no real estate tax. Your landlord pays the real estate tax and charges rent accordingly.

If the real estate tax is eliminated, I think the competition between landlords would probably cause the rents to be lowered.

Think about it. Real estate tax is not based on how much you earn or how much money you have, but instead is based on how much your house is worth or on how much the residence you rent is worth. The tax never ends. You pay it for life, and if you lose your job or are faced with some other catastrophe, you still pay the tax. And everyone pays the tax, directly or indirectly, whether you own a house or rent.

And don’t believe the naysayers who say throwing out the real estate tax would be catastrophic. The tax would either be replaced with an income tax or sales tax – either of which would be much more fair than the real estate tax.

I don’t like any kind of tax, and I am sure you don’t either, but fair is fair, and the real estate tax does not fill the bill.

Think about that when you vote.