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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on March 7, 2011 9:42 AM. The previous post in this blog was Portland City Hall cover-up on Hayden Island. The next post in this blog is Fate of Portland water bills to be decided in Salem. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Monday, March 7, 2011

How your property taxes stack up

Here's a gizmo that the wonkier among us should find interesting. It shows property taxes in just about every county in the country, as compiled by the Census Bureau. Playing around with it, we see that in median tax per property, Multnomah County ranked 192nd highest out of 3,140 listed counties over the five year period 2005-2009 -- in the seventh percentile. As a percentage of median home value, Multnomah's median property tax was 1,186th highest (38th percentile), but as a percentage of median income, it was 218th (again, seventh percentile).

Washington County's ranks were 183 (sixth percentile), 1,344 (43rd percentile) and 382 (13th percentile), respectively. Clackamas County ranked 187 (sixth percentile), 1,489 (48th percentile) and 317 (11th percentile), respectively.

The high ratio of property tax to income is troubling, especially when coupled with Oregon's not-so-progressive income tax. Assuming as most economists do that landlords pass property taxes on to tenants in higher rents, it would appear that the lower and middle classes are paying a pretty price to live around here, particularly in Multnomah County.

Comments (14)

To quote local pols in advance:

. . . biased measurements. . . right-wing hate group wants to drown govt in bath-tub. . . think of the kids. . . why don't you move to those places where prop taxes are cheap. . . we've cut to the bone already and really need the money. . . it's different here . . . we need to lead the nation in being green and that's not cheap . . . say, have you seen the new boat?

We need new scriptwriters.

Isn't this sort of comparison only valid when the other member of the triad, sales tax, is counted?

It is the result of that good old Measure 5 people here were conned into passing. It took a huge chunk of the burden off of corporate property taxes and put it squarely on homeowners. But, the ads for it all said it was going to provide relief for homeowners, and voters fell for it.

Oregon used to have one of the most progressive tax systems in the country. The corporatist right wingers fixed that good!

dyspeptic must be new to the area. Much of Measure 5 - which incidentally included a prohibition on urban renewal - was replaced by Measures 47 & 50 in the late 1990s. That is where the minimum 3 percent increase in property taxes each year comes from and what is killing homeowners and renters. Anyone who thinks corporate property taxes are paid by corporations doesn't understand the first thing about taxation.

In a recent discussion with a City Commissioner (who shall remain unidentified), I was informed that Portland's property taxes really aren't any higher than the suburbs when you add in the costs of commuting farther.

More importantly, said commissioner believes most people are willing to pay more to live in Portland as evidenced by the fact that vacancy/foreclosure rates are lower in PDX than the burbs.

They seem to believe that taxes can go much higher before they outweigh the tremendous "quality of life" advantages enjoyed by Portland's citizens.

And if you can't afford the increases, the commissioner believes there are plenty of people who are eager to rent/buy your residence.

Would that that were true!

Commuting to what? The jobs are in the suburbs.

Yes,all those suburbanites are commuting to Voodoo Donuts and a few of the shooting clubs in oldtown and the few blocks of "entertainment town". Jobs? What jobs?- since statistics show Portland has lost jobs while the suburbs have gained a few.

First thing I noticed was the state of Wisconsin. Wow that jumps out! I wonder what is going on their? Maybe I should Google Wisconsin+taxes?

"when the other member of the triad, sales tax, is counted?"
"ratio of property tax to income is troubling"

People you are aware the map shows the ratio of prop taxes to income? Not the millage rate.

If you're going to talk sales taxes, then I'd include state income taxes also, but usually every state has some property taxes for local services and schools.

The high ratio of property tax to income is troubling, especially when coupled with Oregon's not-so-progressive income tax.

Has anyone looked at the overall progressivity of various state and local tax schemes? Our income tax is clearly regressive, but so are most sales taxes. When one leg of the stool is missing completely -- in this case sales tax -- does that help the lower and middle classes, or harm them?

It's taxes that hurt the middle class, not the lack of them.

With more to come if BOTH school measures pass.

Regarding this quote: "Assuming as most economists do that landlords pass property taxes on to tenants in higher rents" -- I am an economist and that is not exactly true. Only a portion of property tax gets passed onto renters because the income stream of property is a combination of rents and capital gains. Rent rates are based on supply and demand, not costs. You can only pass property taxes onto renter to the extent that the market allows you to. Otherwise no landlord would ever lose money.

I have several rental houses that rent for roughly the same amount now as they did 10 years ago. The property taxes on most of them have doubled, as have the water bills. As much as I have tried to rent them for more on turn-over (to pass these costs along tot he renter) the market has said NO.


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