N.J. Property Tax Revolt
So what’s the solution to the property tax problem, a constitutional convention that calls for a shift from property taxes to higher income or sales taxes? Does a shift from one tax to another really address the problem? Does "The Plan 4 NJ" that shifts property taxes from person to another solve anything? The citizens of New Jersey have been down the tax shifing path before and it has never brought a long term solution.
Property taxes in New Jersey continued their relentless climb last year, with average tax bills rising 6.2 percent, according to a Star-Ledger analysis. The average tax bill of $5,517 is now 33 percent higher than five years ago.
The state treasurer says an analysis of property tax levies shows increases should be blamed on towns and schools, not a lack of state aid. No matter who is to blame, some people have had enough.
In Morris County, high property taxes have caught up with senior citizens who bought homes more than 40 years ago before a population boom. They created a tax reform group called the Silver Brigade. Ruth Harris of Denville, the group's former president, said, "We found ourselves talking to younger people, and they are having just as much trouble as we are."
"We want schools to be good but funding them through property taxes is ridiculous," she said. "Many seniors bought homes here years ago before government became expensive. We are finding they are moving to South Jersey, the South, and Pennsylvania (and) their children cannot afford to live here."
Taxes are too high and will continue to soar because too much money is being spent by government at all levels – state, county, city and town. We need real reform and legislation that limits government spending without loopholes. Perhaps a constitutional amendment will be required to ensure spending limits can not be overturned by the courts. But we need real reform, not tax shifting and bureaucratic rebates that waste money to return pennies on the dollar.
We have a few suggestions for reducing government spending:
- Cap spending growth to the inflation rate plus population growth
- Eliminate the transfer of income from one group or person to another
- Eliminate all spending on non-essential services in any year in which the proposed budget would be greater than estimated tax revenues to acheive a balance budget
Additional suggestions for property tax reform:
- Eliminate school funding from property taxes
- Create a separate school tax - similar to the sewer tax
- A minimum tax to be levied on each property with the balance to be based upon the number of children living on the property and enrolled in the school system. (Similar to the sewer tax with its minimum rate and the balance based upon water usage by the residence.)