Tax consumers are taking more than tax producers can create

To the Editor:

I didn’t want to do it but I had no choice. This extended economic downturn finally beat me down and I closed the small business I had in Guilderland.

I’m going to break a few rules today and get into what some people will mischaracterize as sour grapes.  But that’s not at all what I mean to do. I intend to inform other struggling main-street business owners and tax producers that they are not alone and that it’s OK, in fact it is necessary for our survival, to speak out against the factors that are destroying our economy.

So I’m throwing the traditional stoicism and reticence that is expected of a conservative businessman out the window and getting to the heart of the matter.

I recently found a great article on line at Yahoo.com entitled: “9 Beliefs of Remarkably Successful People” by Jeff Haden that lists some very basic dos and don’ts for success. I agreed with everything he said and highly recommend reading it but there were a few additions to his list that I would have made (except that my dos and don’ts aren’t politically correct)

I would have suggested, with a large dose of sarcasm, hiring a lobbyist, making campaign contributions to key politicians and locating your business in a tax-free zone. Some people aren't aware of this but tax-free zones are not a radically new idea. We have always had them. They're called; Texas, Florida, North Carolina...

It’s the taxes, stupid. A few election cycles ago the catch phrase of the year was: “It’s the economy, stupid.” And how true that was, but what undermined the economy then as now are taxes and regulations.

With literally thousands of new rules, regulations, and taxes to contend with, our myriad governments, agencies, departments, and taxing jurisdictions have obstructed private-sector growth. We are many miles down the road to serfdom.

Our government of, by, and for the people, has been transformed into a socialistic quagmire, of, by, and for itself. It’s become a veritable self-licking ice cream cone where tax consumers are taking more than tax producers can create.

Of all the taxes we have to pay, the most oppressive are property taxes in that they are not tied to the tax producer's ability to pay. Unlike an income tax, your property taxes will not disappear when you lose your job, take a pay cut, or retire. When your property’s value drops, the taxes on it do not. Being as this particular economic downturn we are currently embroiled in is largely a consequence of a collapsed housing market, many of us are finding that real-estate ownership has turned from an investment into a liability.

I speak from experience here and would like to advise property owners to do a little math. I think you may be shocked to learn, as I was, that the equity you expect to grow over time has been neutralized by your property taxes.

In preparing my argument to protest my tax assessment, I found that my assessment had increased 44 percent over the past several years, dictated by what our assessor claimed to be a $70,000 increase in my property’s value over the same period.

While I would like to accept that kind of a return on my investment, I don’t believe it resembles reality and has opened my eyes to the fact that our local governments have been artificially inflating our property values in order to realize increased revenue without a rate increase.

In my case, the property taxes I paid totaled $70,000 over the period of time that our assessor claims my property value increased by the same amount. In other words, my equity has been confiscated, taxed at a 100-percent rate, legally plundered.

Like dark and sinister magicians, our magnanimous politicians and bureaucrats have our eyes focused on the 2-percent tax cap in their right hand while the left hand behind their back holds their secrets.

The low interest rates our banks currently provide are simply a means to squeeze more tax revenue out of our property.

I’ve been the vice president of the Rensselaer County Taxpayers’ Association for about two decades now. In that capacity, I have endeavored to help hold government and politicians accountable to the people by exposing the injustice and regressiveness of over taxation.

Our group used to publish a monthly newsletter and, on the front page of one of our earliest editions many years ago, we featured photos of residents holding our sign while standing in front of their homes. The sign read: “Please don’t tax us out of our home.”

Our campaign obviously had little effect as property taxes are worse than ever. We ceased publication of that newsletter several years ago with the passing of Jim Gillespie, the president of our group. The RCTA has been largely dormant since then. There used to be other groups such as the All County Taxpayer Association that seem to have dissipated as well.

Taxpayers are still being abused and need a place to vent. So I recently created a new Facebook page (www.facebook.com/RCTA.NY) to give them an opportunity to express their concerns about runaway spending and oppressive taxation at all levels of government. It’s a place where fiscal conservatives can collaborate with like-minded individuals everywhere.

You don’t have to be a resident of Rensselaer County to visit our page or post a comment. We have no membership list or dues. Just give us a “like,” and be a part of the conversation.

If you attend your school board or town hall meetings and have something to say about them, leave a comment about it on the RCTA Facebook page.

If you need a sounding board or a place to vent frustration over taxes you are paying and the government’s liberal spending, share it with the rest of the community. You are not alone.

David Crawmer, once owned a business in Guilderland
East Greenbush

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