in which I pay property tax

I got my first property tax bill in the mail this week.  The amount did not surprise me – it was in line with what my research indicated before I purchased the property.  I chose not to establish an escrow account, so I will be paying my taxes and insurance directly.  A few things about this bill inspired me to write this blog entry:

1.  Owning is not always financially better than renting.  I figured this out during the process and decided to become an owner anyway.  Don’t be fooled; you need to do the math for yourself.  My property taxes alone are 66% of what I would have spent paying rent annually, and this doesn’t build equity.

2.  The county mailed out the tax statement on September 30.  The invoice states that, “Taxes for the current year (2012) are due and payable in full on October 1, and are delinquent if not paid on or before January 31.”  So I can hold my $6K+ for four months or pay it now … I wonder which option is better?  I would love to know what percentage of people just pay the bill as soon as it arrives.  I put a reminder on my calendar for January 15.

3.  You can pay the bill online – how convenient.  Except a greedy corporation (a/k/a JP Morgan Chase) has nudged their way between the county and me.  It’s only free to pay online if you pay by ACH transfer from your bank account.  Credit card purchases are charged a 2.3% “convenience fee” which is collected by Chase Bank.  That’s right – Chase wants to be paid $146.39 for the convenience of letting me use my Chase credit card to pay my county taxes.  Such BS.

4.  The upcoming November election contains three local propositions for general purpose bonds.  These are a good idea, and they keep our city infrastructure (roads, sidewalks, trails, flood control) in good repair.  For the last couple decades I have voted on similar measures, but I never really had to “pay” since I did not own property.  It didn’t seem strange at the time, but now it does.  We let a lot of people vote to approve or reject taxes that they will never have to pay.  It is much like the evil twin to the concept of “no taxation without representation”.  Surely there is a more equitable way for everyone who lives in a city to share in the cost of maintaining it?  Or maybe I should just be thankful for the free ride all these years?  Not sure yet – more thought required.

2 Comments »

  1. Betty said,

    October 11, 2012 @ 1:21 pm

    Re: #4… I don’t think there is anything more equitable than property tax for repaying bonds for city infrastructure. Ultimately, everyone lives somewhere on a piece of property that is taxed (whether they pay directly through ownership or indirectly through their rent), so everyone pays property tax. Actually, the corporations who own the giant buildings downtown probably foot the majority of the cost of repaying those bonds, even after their “sweetheart” deals with the city and county.

  2. Ian said,

    October 11, 2012 @ 2:47 pm

    Keep in mind that when we rent, our landlords have to pay property taxes, and they almost certainly consider this when they decide what rent they’ll charge (or are willing to let us bargain them down to). So it may not have been too much of a free ride all along.

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