Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Fear of taxes is justified

The Mountain Express is misleading in its pitch of support for disclosure of property sales prices so that can then obviously lead to real estate transfer taxes, which it also supports. The Mountain Express says, "State legislators have succumbed to misplaced fears that public knowledge of sales prices could be used to impose small transfer fees—just as Colorado does." The legislators' fears are not misplaced. (Note careful use of "fees" instead of "taxes.")

Colorado had allowed real estate transfer taxes, but significantly that was repealed and prohibited by a statewide vote of the people of Colorado on the Tax Payers Bill of Rights Amendment in 1992, 15 years ago. Communities that had real estate transfer taxes were "grandfathered" and allowed to continue transfer taxes. Today, there are only 12 communities in Colorado with real estate transfer taxes, and these are all associated with ski resorts. Seven have a one-percent transfer tax, Aspen has 1-1/2 percent, Avon 2 percent, Crested Butte and Telluride 3 percent, and Ophir 4 percent.

Those 12 receive many tens of millions of dollars each year from the real estate transfer tax and they spend it all and with all the best of justifications. Has there ever been a tax dollar that hasn't been spent, fueling a demand for ever more tax receipts?

Wood River Valley governments can't be blamed for salivating at the pot at the end of the transfer tax rainbow. It just is in the genes of government.

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