Sunday, February 03, 2008

Property tax wallop spurs backlash


The Hoosier backlash is symbolic of growing unrest nationwide over rising property taxes, including in the Chicago area, where bills based on a county reassessment will begin reaching some taxpayers this month.

With foreclosures rising across the U.S., property values declining and tax revenues in a nose dive, governments are finding taxpayers in no mood to shell out more money on property taxes. Property tax controversies and reforms have hit at least 20 states, including New Jersey and California. Floridians last week passed a constitutional amendment overhauling the state's property tax system and cutting taxpayers' bills by about $240 per homeowner.

Nationwide, property tax payments jumped 50 percent from 2000 to 2006, U.S. Census Bureau data show, as governments took in $339 billion in property taxes -- their top revenue source.

"There is a feeling among taxpayers they are hitting their limits," said Laurence Msall, president of The Civic Federation, a tax policy research group based in Chicago. "There is not a lot of slack in these uncertain economic times for generating more revenue from taxes."