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John Mooney, founding editor of njspotlight.com, looks ahead to this afternoon's budget address by New Jersey Governor, Chris Christie.
tax reform yea, I would have to differ with you regarding the school-value you get for $35k in taxes. In many cases those taxes rates are in towns that seemingly exist entirely to create elite public schools. Even in economically diverse school districts, the children of the wealthy do very well if you look at the demographic breakouts. Take Montclair, while the high school performs in line with state averages, it's non-economically disadvantaged students significantly outperform those averages.
Yes, there are parents in Montclair who pay $35k in taxes and send their kids to private schools like MKA, but they don't *need* to do so for their children to get a good education.
Hugh and Edward from NJ: I agree with both of you on taxpayer delusion and unfair distribution of the local tax burden. I was also caught up short by the host's amazement at the size of property taxes -- especially since the NJ taxes are so much lower than here in lower Westchester (try $22,000+ for a similar valued house!). Though New Jersey as a state may have the highest average property taxes, Westchester, Nassau and the other NY suburban counties are much higher than their NJ equivalents -- and they are just as arbitrarily unfairly distributed, due to the same lack of understanding by the local taxpayers.
edward -- good points... your idea also makes sense in terms of the true value of the house -- since many times more people would be able to afford a house that brought the tax bill below the mortgage (keep in mind many thousands of New Jerseyans, believe it or not, are paying north of 20 and even 35k tax bills.
Of course that's On top of sending their kids to secular private schools since their local school is geared to bringing the lowest students "up", rather than teaching to the bright ones, paying for anti-drug and bullying assemblies every other week, and other lowest common denominator taxes.
Hugh, a $14,000 tax bill in Northern New Jersey probably means the house is worth about $500,000. The caller was juxtaposing that against NYC where, if you could find a property for $500k, the taxes would be about one-third of that figure. The problem isn't whether or not the owner is well off enough to pay the bill. They probably are. The problem is that, on whole, property taxes in NJ have continued to go up while property values have gone down. The caller who mentioned their $14,000 tax bill probably payed $700,000 for their house 7 years ago and had a $9,000 tax bill. So they've lost all their equity and their tax bill has gone up -- that's annoying regardless of how much money you have.
Raising sales taxes is a stupid, regressive idea, but the same is not true of income taxes. I can afford my property taxes, but I would much rather pay the same amount in additional income tax, since that would actually reflect my current ability to pay and not the hypothetical value of an illiquid asset.
NJ needs to consolidate city services. Why do we have both city and county governments? Do we need both? How much of NJ is unincorporated county land? I live in Hudson County- why is there a county Sheriff dept? What do they do? There is a county jail but that is run by the Dept of Corrections. Living in Hoboken I see law enforcement from Hoboken city, Hudson county sheriff, Port Authority police, Transit police, and NJ State police. There must be some needless overlap somewhere in there! Why do some of these tiny towns even exist other than to justify the jobs of the government workers? Guttenberg is 4 blocks by about 10 blocks. Why does it exist as a separate entity other than for the benefit of its mayor, police chief, etc?
Guess the last caller doesn't know that renters pay, in part, a share of the real estate owners property tax. Every landlord passes on their property taxes to renters.
Question: What about Corey Booker for Gov.?
Before the host expresses amazement at a $14,000 property tax, maybe she should ask what property value brings that kind of tax.
It is genuinely astonishing to hear clearly well-to-do callers gripe that they — who are better off — really deserve lower taxes while poor or lower middle class really should be paying more.
The level of delusion among Americans regarding tax burdens may be entirely unparalleled in the rest of the world. Certainly, no western European nation (where taxes are higher) sees comparable levels of idiotic demands for services paired with demands for lower taxes.
My property taxes went down last year, but only because my property value plummeted. And the taxes are still 50% higher than they were 6 years ago when I bought the house.
we rent. we pay over 3k on rent for a 3 bed house in a nice "town" (not much of a downtown but decent grammar and middle schools). to buy this place we'd have to add another 1.7k/month on top of the mortgage.
nearby towns, with lesser schools, charge more in tax than mortgage.
on 175k salary, who can afford this?
Property taxes are not a real reflection of one's ability to pay. In a world where salaries have largely gone flat, where people are out of work and where those on fixed incomes are stretched to the limit, taxing their homes at market value is unworkable and unfair. The myth that property taxes reflect the "real value" of a home is absurd. All you have to do is look at your tax bill and the current value of your home today to know that. I don't know about other Jersey residents but I haven't received a letter from the Vernon Tax Collector telling me my taxes are going down proportionate to the current sale value of my home. Just to put it into perspective, property tax is the only tax that is collected on an asset that has not realized either a profit or a loss. Property tax, as it is currently administered, is responsible for disrupting the lives of countless NJ residents. NJ needs better regulation of municipal & county budgets, mandated consolidation of services along with a look at raising taxes on income vs property. Just to put it into perspective, my taxes in Vernon DOUBLED 2 years ago. This from a town that has built a sewer to nowhere, wasted hundreds of thousands of dollars on a downtown nobody will visit and forgot the water supply for said downtown.........someone help me here.
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Brian Lehrer leads the conversation about what matters most now in local and national politics, our own communities and our lives.
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