Some tax 'increases' not really increases
April 07, 2011 12:00 AM | 1420 views | 10 10 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print

When is a millage rate increase NOT a tax increase?

* Cobb house values for tax purposes have been reduced due to the poor housing market.

* Thus, all other things being equal, the amount of real estate tax dollars Cobb property owners will pay this year is less than last year.

* If the millage rate is increased, but not enough to eat up all of the tax savings the taxpayer sees due to the lower house value, the tax dollars he pays this year will still be less than last year.

This point is being missed by many in the Cobb budget debate.

We do not propose that the whole $31 million shortfall be covered by an increase in the millage rate. Certainly expense cuts must be a major consideration.

But it is a mistake to call a millage rate increase an "increase in tax" when, combined with the homeowner's new reduced assessment, his overall property tax bill dollars go down.

The political stigma of this incorrect "tax increase" phrasing could lead to poor budget policy decisions.

Carolyn Debavadi
Council on Public Policy, LLC

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David Staples
April 08, 2011
So if I understand correctly, every single residence in Cobb County should see a decrease in assessed value this year, correct? What about those residences that see no change in value or see an increase in value? But that would never, happen, right?
April 07, 2011
Ms. Carolyn D......I may finally understand. I read your comments four times. In summary: The dollar amount paid declines, the millage rate declines, the assessment declines...this is a tax decrease. Right? Now, Option 2: The dollar amount paid remains the same, the millage rate increases, the assessment declines. This is not a tax increase. Right? Now, Option 3: the dollar amount paid increases, the millage rate declines, the assessment increases. This is a tax increase. Right?
Pat H
April 07, 2011
We have lost value on our homes, lost much more in wages and jobs outsourced. We have lost money in the stock market and lost income from investments due to lower interest rates.

The county has to accept loss too. We are in the middle of a recession and steps should have been taken in 2008 to reduce spending. The giddy SPLOST supporters with their lists of ridiculous gimme, gimme projects that were mostly unnecessary during tough times. Too bad the county was not forthright and told us first - there is a large budget shortfall and tax increases may be needed regardless of the SPLOST outcome. So now we don't trust them and expect them to lower our assessments and leave the millage rate as is.

Some of the comments to various articles by Cobb employees are unbelievable. The sense of entitlement that they feel is due them and disrespect to the needs of taxpayers is very revealing. If this is any indication of the integrity of county employees, well it is way past time to clean house. I blamed the Chairman and Commissioners, but honestly I think they are afraid of these employees.
April 07, 2011
re: Carolyn Debavadi, President, Council on Public Policy, LLC

Who are the Principals of the Council on Public Policy, LLC? Who funds it?

Butter Bean
April 07, 2011
Using your example, if a tax increase is really not an increase when property values and tax revenues decrease; then reverse logic dictates a tax decrease is really not a decrease in times of rising values and rising tax revenue.

That dog don't hunt lady.
April 07, 2011
Trust me, phrasing like "tax increase" is NOT the reason for poor budget policy decisions. Power-drunk politicians ignoring the will of the people (CUT THE BUDGET/SPENDING, STUPID!) they were elected to represent ARE.
April 07, 2011
Carolyn is absolutely correct. All you have to do NtheNo is look at the total property tax revenues coming into the County. The millage is the same the last several years and yet the revenues are decreasing the last two years. The will not hold true for every single person paying property taxes because of such things as the floating homestead and their actual property values but as a whole community it is absolutely true. Please get your facts straight before commenting.
Leo Pith-Garnell
April 07, 2011
So, Carolyn, what you are saying is that we should be suck with an over-inflated assement value and pay taxes on that value. Well, splain this to me, what about the guy who buys a house in forclosure and gets a huge benny on the price. Should that person pay the assessment on the value he paid, or on the value of the house before foreclosure. I could go on with more examples. The law is quite clear, you pay taxes on the assessed value, which is directly related to the actual value in the market place. So, your comment that a millage rate increase would not be an "increase in tax" defies logic and is plainly inaccurate.
April 07, 2011
By your perverted logic, if they raised the Income tax rate, but you lost your job, that would not be a tax increase either.

The good people of Cobb are angry. They will do the right thing if they are not lied to.

Remember if we passed the SPLOST, we would not get a tax increase. Our leaders needed to step up... either raise the Property Tax, or pack some expenses in the SPLOST to make up the difference. Don't tell me that is illegal... they would find a way if they if they wanted to.

So now we have new Concession Stands to go with the School SPLOST Artificial Turf... But wait... they are at different fields.

Yes, the people of Cobb have a right to be angry.

April 07, 2011
But of course that's the way it works - and if you stand on your head the world is REALLY upside down.


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