OPINION: Property Taxes – The County’s Forever Rent

By Jacob Bradley, Waller County Libertarian Party Chairman

Today you go to the store and buy a pair of shoes. You pay for the shoes and take them home. The next week you go to your mailbox and have a bill from the local government saying you owe them $5 in shoe taxes for the rest of your life for the privilege to own the shoes.

Would you be outraged? This is the exact experience that homeowners have every year with property taxes and the privilege to own a home.

Imagine you buy a house, you work hard for 30 years to pay off that house, you experience the joy of making that last payment and being free of a mortgage. You have accomplished what everyone hopes to accomplish in their lifetime and as a consolation prize you get to pay rent on the property you own for the rest of your life to the county by threat of homelessness. The state of Texas boasts the seventh highest property taxes in the country and Waller County is in the top 15% (469 out of 3143) of all counties in the nation when It comes to property taxes. When the tax year is over the county uses tax dollars to hire a appraiser to come to appraise our houses and tell us what we get to pay for the year in property taxes for the right to live in a house we already paid for.

I understand that not everyone owns a house, but everyone needs a place to stay. If you are a renter, the property taxes affect you as well. The homeowner will pay for property taxes but they do not eat that expense.

The expense will, like every other tax, be passed onto the consumer, in this case the renter. With the average household property tax of $200 a month, the rents in the area will go up by that much on top of however much inflation we’ve experienced that year.

When you get your tax bill from the county, you have until January 1 of the following year to become current on your property taxes. If you have not paid your property taxes at that point a lien can be placed on your house and your home becomes collateral against the taxes owed on your property. If by February 1 of the second year you still have not paid the property taxes a County Judge will enter a judgment and your home will be placed up for auction. At that point if your home does not sell at auction, your home then becomes property of the county to be used in any way they see fit.

The cost of home ownership in Waller county is 1.67% of the home value or $164 a month on average. To put this in perspective, Terrell County pays .67% or $23.75 a month on average for their property taxes, a full percentage less than what is paid in Waller County. An argument will be made that the taxes need to be paid for our kids education. Waller county school districts are rated a B- while Tarrell County school districts are rated a B. Waller County pays on average just under $1,600 a year per household on property taxes more than Terrell County and have basically the same outcomes in the schools.

Texas levies taxes upon the citizenry of the state and while I find stealing from the citizenry against their will by threat of violence evil, I find the property tax the most evil of these taxes.

The federal government has recently floated a yearly tax to be able to own a firearm and the population was rightfully outraged, but when it comes to a yearly tax for being able to own property, the population remains silent.

I encourage everyone to call their county boards, city boards and mayors to demand that the policy of paying a forever rent for the privilege to own house needs to stop. I also encourage everyone to get in touch with their local Libertarian Party County affiliates and LP Texas and see how we can work together to end this policy and make the state more free for everyone.

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