Property tax increases will harm families, seniors
The rising cost of housing in the last few years is making home ownership a tough proposition for Reno home buyers. We look at what’s fueling the Biggest Little City’s housing crisis and potential options for people looking for a new place to call home Jason Hidalgo/RGJ
I arrived in Reno in 1976. Having owned a home in Missouri, I thought it wise to be a homeowner in Nevada. During the next four years, there were significant property tax increases that threatened my home ownership. I taught school during the day and held a second job in the evenings to pay for the additional property tax levied on my home. I was financially barely hanging on.
The tax shift of 1981 was a wonderful relief. It reduced property tax collections by 50 percent and placed a greater reliance on sales tax.
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As the years passed, property taxes continued to climb, erasing the tax savings generated by the tax shift. Lawmakers recognized the danger of the oncoming “real estate bubble” and the increase in property tax that the formula would generate. Nevada Revised Statute 361.4723 was introduced to create tax relief.
Today, NRS 361.4723 provides a partial abatement of taxes by applying a 3 percent cap on the tax bill of the owner’s primary residence. The statute gives all taxpayers confidence and tax predictability.
Now there is a new threat to home ownership in Nevada. Sen. Julia Ratti introduced Senate Joint Resolution 14 during the 2017 session of the Nevada Legislature. SJR 14 seeks to amend the Nevada Constitution to change property assessments and increase property taxes by removing the 3 percent property tax cap.
SJR 14 is cloaked as a bill that provides property tax relief for the disabled and seniors age 62 and older. But does it really provide the tax relief Sen. Ratti claims? Maybe not. Julia’s proposal is income-based.
Under SJR 14 the 3 percent property tax abatement or “cap” changes when a property is sold or there is a title change. A tax increase could be triggered by a change of property title due to divorce, death of a spouse, marriage, acquiring a trust, adding a family member or inheritance.
The property tax increase burden now will be shifted to growing families who want to purchase a larger home within our community and to seniors who downsize their home after raising a family.
Seniors already are protected with an enduring, predictable and limited 3 percent tax increase already provided by the Legislature. Why do we need to change this protection for seniors? Could it be a desire to grow government? We need to defeat this bill and unseat its sponsor.
Vincent Ames is a Reno resident. READ MORE