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Robert L. Hale, Minot, N.D., Published December 07 2013

Letter: Property tax fixes no-shows

On Dec. 3, North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple created the Task Force for Property Tax Reform. This marks a major change in his position on property taxes. At the beginning of the last legislative session, the governor told us property taxes were a local, not a state, function and needed to be addressed at the local level. Opponents of Measure 2 argued that we needed to keep property taxes because property taxes provided local control. (Control of what they didn’t say.) In his executive order, Dalrymple said property owners want the state involved because local control isn’t working.

Nineteen months ago, North Dakotans voted to not abolish property taxes. Opponents of abolition agreed property taxes were out of control, unfair, harmful to the security of families and not comprehensible. However, they argued abolition was extreme and if Measure 2 was voted down, they would see that the Legislature fixed them.

Six months after rejecting Measure 2, the Legislature met. The promising “fixes” were no-shows. Not a single bill was passed aimed at fixing property taxes – nothing, nada.

Don’t hold your breath waiting for anything different from the governor’s affront to common sense under the guise of this phony property tax reform boys’ club. The governor appointed the same folks (legislators and lobbyists) who opposed Measure 2 and failed to pass a bill to provide promised fixes.

Those who touted the need for “local control” as the reason to defeat Measure 2 and keep property taxes are the same people the governor tells us will now do the job. The governor rejected doing anything during the legislative session; his newly picked “tax reform” team did nothing when the doing needed to be done – i.e., during the legislative session. Believe this will be different at your peril.

This isn’t a game to the governor and his merry men. This is high stakes poker. The chips are our earnings, our homes’ use as collateral for collecting taxes, and bureaucrats’ ability to run a tax system so confusing it is impossible to understand, let alone challenge.

This is political power and control for the governor and a small group of legislators and special interests who are taking billions of our tax dollars and oil royalties and squirreling them away in special interest funds. These funds are used to buy political favor and influence special interests.

There are three indisputable facts when it comes to property taxes:

• The political class and special interests that live off our earnings will never do anything to fix, reform or limit them.

• There is no fix or reform for property taxes. Like weeds, you either eliminate them or live with them.

• Thus, we don’t need fixes or reform; we need relief – and that will come when property taxes are gone.

Does North Dakota need property taxes to fund functions of government? No. North Dakota is blessed with resources that make property taxes unnecessary. Further, econometric study after econometric study show the economic benefits stimulated by abolition of property taxes exceed revenue “lost” from eliminating this harmful, counterproductive and anti-freedom, anti-liberty tax.

The only losers when property taxes are abolished are the political class and special interests that grow and thrive by making us perpetually rent our own homes from government or lose them. The winners are every individual, family and business.

The biggest winner when property taxes are gone will be liberty and freedom.

Hale was a leader of the failed Measure 2 property tax repeal effort.