Last week there was an event in Sheridan to discuss property taxes. Unless you’ve been hiding, you probably have noticed that your property tax assessment has increased faster than even things that Biden has fiddled with. But Biden didn’t fiddle with your property taxes, so we can’t blame him. No, your “friends” in the state legislature are responsible.
An excellent presentation by Cindy Barlow on behalf of the Equality State Taxpayers Association brought several things to light. First of all, the main problem can be traced back to a sneaky little ballot referendum from 1988 that changed “assessed value” to “fair market value” in Wyoming statute. This allows the adjustment of your property value based upon recent sales. So, if you don’t already hate the Californians and other Left Coast emigrants that paid way over market value for local property, you now have a reason to.
The second problem is that most of the folks who could fix this problem don’t care. Well, they’ll tell you to your face they feel your pain and care about your financial bind, but they won’t do anything about it. The County Commissioners will tell you they are all for a reduction in property tax, yet they lobby at the state level to keep it the way it is, and if you complain they tell you to talk to the Assessor. It’s all about the revenue, you know.
Then there are the legislators, your elected representatives. They could fix this problem, but they don’t really want to because they enjoyed the extra $400 Million from property taxes that dropped into their greedy hands last year.
Which brings us to the question: Where Is Cyrus?
Two legislators were in attendance at the Property Tax Meeting, Ken Pendergraft and Mark Jennings. Notably absent were Cyrus Western and Barry Crago. Interestingly, at the Patriot Chat event the previous week, Cyrus Western was notably absent as well. Even Barry managed to drive up from Buffalo to talk to people.
We understand that busy people have commitments and can’t make it to everything, but Cyrus Western claims to be your champion for reducing property taxes. His constituent letter from earlier this year tells us how he “fought” for reducing your property taxes and failed, but will keep fighting. He also put aside millions for property tax relief for “middle- and low-income folks.” We’re not exactly sure who qualifies for that program since anyone with more the $150,000 in equity is disqualified, but like all good politicos, it’s the thought that counts.
If you are like most people, your property taxes increased around 25-30% in 2022 and will increase another 25-30% for 2023. This is fairly typical around the entire state of Wyoming. The blue-dot republican legislators think this is okay. Did you see them rushing to fix the problem? Even our hero, the mighty Cyrus failed.
One of their silly proposals, which Cyrus thinks is a good idea, is to set up a new tax classification for “residential property.” That way they can adjust the [stupid] voters’ taxes down and raise them on those evil corporations. You know how that works, don’t you? If you own rental property, that property is not considered residential since you, the owner and taxpayer do not live in it. So, the property tax on your rental goes up and, ta da, you have to pass that increase along to your renters, thus raising the cost of rents and messing with that whole “affordable housing” concept. Sell that to the widows who subsist off a small portfolio of rental units, Cyrus.
Representative Mark Jennings is a proponent of an acquisition cost basis for property tax. This is similar to the Prop 13 concept they employed in California. Mark and his allies managed to get a bill passed authorizing a study of the acquisition cost property tax. It’s a start, but it’s still years away.
Here’s how acquisition cost works. When you buy a house you know how much it costs. Since most people have mortgages, you know exactly how much your monthly house payment is for the next 15 or 30 years. Property tax based upon acquisition cost, would lock in the amount you pay in taxes every year for as long as you own that house; just like your fixed mortgage payment. When you sell the house, the property tax readjusts at the new sale cost. That way, you aren’t being penalized by Ms. Dot Comm from Seattle who paid twice market value for the house next door.
The way our system is currently, you don’t know how much your property tax will be each month after the first year. You can budget for your mortgage payment, but how do you budget for your property tax? If your property tax suddenly increases by $100 per month, as it did for many recently, where is that money coming from? Then add Bidenflation to your normal expenses and you have a poorhouse trip in the making. But, hey, your legislators and county commissioners “feel your pain.” Just don’t expect them to do anything about it because they don’t want to give up all this beautiful new revenue.
There are some homeowners who are okay with higher property taxes. We hear frequently, “I don’t mind paying more in property taxes because Wyoming doesn’t have a state income tax.” Well gee, Skippy, that’s pretty nice of you. What extra services are you getting for the 50% increase in your property taxes? And are you so arrogant that you don’t care about homeowners on a fixed income? And that “affordable housing” you are so concerned about, do you not care that the increased property taxes will increase rents? How about, you pay more and the rest of us won’t.
Taxation is Theft. If you don’t think so, try not paying your property taxes and see what happens. They steal your house.
Want to know what their end game is? Look at this spreadsheet from the 2020-21 legislative session we were given:
You see, you aren’t paying enough and the blue-dot republicans like Barry Crago and Cyrus Western want to fix that.
You may not want an income tax, but those greedy politicians are going to steal your money in other ways. You do realize that they had a $2 BILLION surplus this past year, right? Don’t look too closely because they’ve spent half of it already.
Which takes us back to last week’s meeting on property taxes. Where was Cyrus? Where were any of your County Commissioners? Where was your County Assessor? Where was Sheridan Media and The Sheridan Press?
You see, when the people gather to discuss something they don’t like about the government, they are ignored and labeled as “extremists.” Government doesn’t want to change; they enjoy living off the fruits of your labor. If they ignore you, and tell the media to belittle you, maybe you’ll go away. You should be thankful for living in America and Sheridan, Wyoming, now shut-up and hand over your money and your freedom, you ultra-MAGA, extreme right-wing, nutjob! The only time they care about you is every two or four years when they’re up for reelection and then they “love you long time.”
Cindy Barlow had some useful solutions:
Ask the County Assessor for your property detail and check to make sure everything is correct.
Sign the affidavit to request what properties they based your “fair market value” upon
If something is incorrect, notify the County Assessor as soon as possible. The appeals process must be started within 30 days from the date on your notice of assessment. Your appeal must address the issue of market value with evidence to back it up.
Let’s return briefly to the Taxation Is Theft issue. Valuing and taxing your property based upon new sales of “similar” properties, is taxing an “unrealized capital gain.” In other words, they are forcing you to pay a tax on income you haven’t received (and may never receive). How is that not theft? It’s no different than going shopping in a store and being forced to pay sales tax on an item you didn’t buy. And if you don’t pay? Armed men show up to take your house away with the threat of physical harm, financial devastation, and loss of freedom if you don’t let them. Perhaps taxation is armed robbery?
We already know that Ken Pendergraft and Mark Jennings are working on fixing the problem, because they show up in public and tell us what they’ve done, what they are doing, and listen to what folks have to say about it. They even proposed giving back the excess revenue to Wyoming citizens, which amounted to $4,500 per person, a proposal that, naturally, was shot down by the blue-dots. But what about Cyrus, our trust fund baby who can’t be bothered to show up at any public meetings? Maybe you’ll run into him the next time you’re in Denver or hanging out at the Powder Horn Golf Club. Ask him those tough questions about property taxes. If you can find him.