Property has responsibilities

Conservatives love a free lunch. They clamor incessantly for tax reductions on capital assets, which always has the effect of having taxpayers pay subsidies to the owners of those assets. The effect of reductions in taxes is always to disadvantage the instruments of the state, such as schools, infrastructure, security, and medical services. The wealthy make use of these things as they need, or buy their own when what is available is inadequate for their purposes. The poorer classes are unable to do the same.

Many states institute property tax cuts to reduce the cost to the wealthy. The lower classes are seldom able to avail themselves of these subsidies, which ultimately costs the poor.

Property ownership is a privilege granted by the will of the people. It is only through the good graces of the people that anyone has security of property. Along with that privilege comes a responsibility to society. The larger and more elaborate a property, the more services need to be provided by taxpayers. Roads need to be built to service those properties, the electric grid extended, garbage services provided, sewage pipes constructed. The larger suburbs become, the more fire services are needed, and security forces need to grow.

Expensive properties create a far greater drain on the resources of communities than do, say, apartment complexes, which are packed into a much smaller area, and thus require fewer resources. This results in far higher costs to taxpayers. Taxes should thus be increased on those expensive properties to ensure that the infrastructure is adequate for the entire community.

Expensive communities always take prime land, which takes access away from the poor. Expensive homes inevitably cluster around lakes, which means that the area is cordoned off from people not able to afford to live there. It is highly questionable whether the wealthy ought to be able to take control of natural resources and keep them exclusively for themselves. The property that they purchased ought to be what they are controlling, not the natural resources surrounding those properties, such as lakes or rivers.

There ought to be reasonable access to all natural resources for the people, and that includes lakes and rivers. As it is, most lakes are closed off entirely, and some communities even demand proof of residence from anyone caught in the vicinity.

Since many communities close off these amenities to the public, they ought to be charged dramatically higher taxes for the privilege of denying access to the public, and of having those amenities available to them. It is clearly not fair to have someone that owns a property on a major thoroughfare pay similar tax rates to those in quiet suburban streets overlooking a lake or river.

The most egregious examples of this are those homes that overlook the ocean on both the East and West coasts of Florida. There is little or no way that the public can access the ocean in a fair manner. These homes have created an impenetrable barrier through which the public has no access. Along the A1A in Florida, these homes pack so close together that the public has no way through. Occasionally, every five or ten miles there may be a parking lot where people can leave their vehicles and walk across busy highways to get to the beaches. These lots are extremely expensive and beyond the reach of most residents.

The beaches are public resources, they should not belong to the wealthy that can afford to have homes overlooking the ocean. Roads ought to be built in front of those home with free access for the public. While property owners ought to be able to buy homes overlooking the ocean, they did not purchase the ocean – their rights should not extend beyond their property boundaries.

One answer to this problem would be dramatically higher taxes on those properties. If the wealthy want access to these resources, they should have to pay for the privilege in the form of taxes far higher than what they pay today. If they want access to these things, they should have to pay,and that payment should hurt them as much as it hurts the small property owner when he/she pays property tax.

Florida, of course, does not want these property owners to help support schools, and other essential services. Conservatives in that state want the wealthy to have access without paying for it.

Florida wants an amendment to their constitution eliminating rising taxes on properties that have a falling assessed value. To my mind, we should be taxing the amenities available to those property owners. They should be paying for access to natural resources, regardless of the value of their property.

Reducing the cap on the increased assessed value of properties from 10% to 5% shows a lack of foresight. Economic conditions must be taken into consideration when assessing values. An increase in the rate of growth could well bring inflationary pressures, which could result in dramatically higher property prices. Those properties should be assessed in accordance with rises in property values. A cap is unrealistic.

Property owners must realize that they have a responsibility to their community, to support essential services. The ownership of property comes with added responsibility. People that own second homes should be taxed at a much higher rate, since they are sucking up resources that could be used for locals. Many people own homes in Florida in which they may stay a few months of the year. They should pay dearly for that privilege, as it takes away from the free access of the local population.

There is absolutely no reason that first time home owners should be privileged when purchasing a home. There is no essential right to own a home, and no reason that taxpayers should subsidize home ownership. People around the world live in apartments most of their lives, there is no reason that Americans should not do the same. Giving a deduction to first time owners just places a burden on people that do not own homes.

Amendments like this cost the state vast amounts, in the case of Florida, over $1bn per year. The state cannot afford to reduce spending on essential services, which inevitably targets the poorer classes. If the wealthy want the rights to natural resource, they should be forced to pay dearly for those rights.

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