Mississippi: How Not to Talk About Property Tax Reform

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It's a familiar story around the nation this year: home values are going up dramatically, and long-term residents on fixed incomes are worried that they'll have to sell their homes because they can't afford to pay higher property taxes.

This story is being told, up to a point, in Mississippi by the Jackson Clarion-Ledger right now. The article's author interviews two elderly residents of Lakeview, a town that was pretty much obliterated by Hurricane Katrina. Both homeowners express the same basic concern: that as fixed-income seniors, they simply don't have the means to pay a rapidly rising property tax bill.

The only remedy discussed in the C-J article is a tax cap. A bill introduced this past year would have capped the growth of residential property taxes at 3% a year. This is the classic "bait and switch" fostered by anti-tax advocates: identify a problem everyone can agree with (taxing fixed-income seniors out of their homes) and come up with a solution that benefits even the wealthiest (and youngest) homeowners. The C-J article's failure to discuss other articles is regrettable, but probably just reflects the absence of an informed debate among state policymakers about more targeted alternatives. Too bad.

Thank you for visiting Tax Justice Blog. CTJ and ITEP staff will soon retire this domain. But ITEP staff are still blogging! You can find the same level of insight and analysis and select Tax Justice Blog archives at our new blog, http://www.justtaxesblog.org/

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