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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Portland wants "welcome, stranger" rule for property tax

One of the items on the City of Portland's crowded wish list from state government is a change to the property tax limitations in the state constitution. Portland wants to shift to a system more like California's, in which the tax limitations fall away when a new buyer acquires a piece of property:

A constitutional amendment to reset assessed values to real market values at the time a property is sold will establish a process to correct significant inequities in tax bills between similarly valued properties while restoring lost revenues to vital public services like schools and public safety. The Legislative Revenue Office estimates that if voters approve a measure to reset assessed value to real market value at sale, local property tax revenues would increase by approximately $92 million statewide in the first year and by $1.1 billion in the tenth year.

No doubt other money-hungry local governments in Oregon feel the same way as Portland. But as we understand it, they'd have to get a vote of the people to pass such a proposal. Do you think it has any chance? If Don McIntire were still around, we'd say surely no, but Don's gone.

We're having trouble seeing how "welcome, stranger" would "correct significant inequities in tax bills between similarly valued properties." Wouldn't they make those problems much worse? Newcomers will pay far greater taxes than old-timers owning identical houses.

Comments (19)

What happens when real market value drops below the previous assessed value?

No question that government will "find a fix" for that "problem" restricting the drop in taxable value. I'd have problem with resetting, as long as if the property value plummets, so do the taxes.

If you're talking about resetting on sale, I'm sure the city'd be fine with having "welcome, stranger" work both ways. If you're talking about resetting annually, that's repealing Measure 5, which the city is not overtly advocating at the moment.

This is the first of two-part plan. First get property taxes higher for new buyers. Then when they scream and shout unfair, unfair - go to part two and enact "fairness" where everyone pays more.

Resetting property taxes on a sale, means many people will not be able to afford to move. Much like in a New York rent controlled apartment.

If you have to sell, you will move out of state. Say to somewhere with lower taxes, better schools and fewer crackpots in government.


This is another socialist type movement to kill the American dream of owning a home. It is more of a money grab by government than an attempt to equalize property taxes. If this passes, how much of the raided revenue will be used for more social engineering programs, for subsides handed out to fat cat developers to construct more ugly bunkers and for rent assistance since more people will be renting homes from sleazy landlords than owning them? It is highly likely Sammyboy had his slimy fingers all over this part of the City's lobby agenda.

Portland's new city motto: "Making housing unaffordable"

I'd support a compromise. Statewide, the average property owner is taxed at an assessed value that is 74% of the real market value. How about we reset on sale to raise the taxable assessed value of the property to the state average, as a floor. (If the property is already assessed at over 74% of sale price, no reset.)

This would be less of a drastic shift to new property owners, make change more gradual, and would more gradually bring property assessments closer to (but never all the way up to) market values. It would also be hard for the buyers to say it's unfair, since they'd be paying based on what the average property owner does.

The Tribune's article, and color-coded map from Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue does a good job of explanation if you didn't catch it yet.

Sarah Carlin Ames

This is just another desperate money grab by a local government looking for more revenue.

Does anyone have a link directly to the map Ms. Ames and Tribune reference? I am not seeing it in the article nor google search.

Right now, homes with low property taxes under the current system sell for more than homes with relatively high property taxes. That makes sense because buyers shop for homes based on their projected monthly payments, which includes taxes, not on sales price alone. The difference between a home with an $1800/year property tax bill and a home with a $4800/year property tax bill is $250/month, which translates into at least a $75,000 premium for the lower-taxed property right now. If the law passes, all those premiums will go away in large part, so in that sense, existing homeowners will bear the brunt of the tax increase, not newcomers to the market.

Anyway they can think of collecting more money from people!

Is the city waiting for the old-timers to fade away and then? What if the "welcome stranger" collection backfires, as new ones won't be coming in willing to pay or
”bail out” for the financial problems created by the Portland agenda?
Then what? . . . blocks of homes sitting empty because few can afford the taxes. . .tear them down and fill the city with more apartment bunkers, put people into worksforce and subsidized housing because people cannot afford single family homes?

If this passes, tension will be set up between neighbors, where the old-timers pay less and new ones pay enormous taxes, but what do these "collectors" care? This may be another plan on the list of destabilizing the old neighborhoods. This seems to be what is happening, taking the schools that are anchors out of neighborhoods by eliminating them or changing boundaries, putting apartment bunkers without parking into neighborhoods, intolerable infill and congestion, less garbage pickup and . . .

I wonder what role if any the the Office of Equity might have in this?

"...tension will be set up between neighbors, where the old-timers pay less and new ones pay enormous taxes.."

Due to Prop. 13 in California, my in-laws who bought their house in 1963 and stayed put, paid $100 a year in property taxes, while the people next door to them who bought their home in the 1980s paid more than $6,000. Same style house, same neighborhood...

My inner east side home is currently taxed at about 1% of "real market value". According to my tax bill, assessed value is less than 50% of "real market value". Homes in Seattle are taxed at approximately 1% of real market value. Washington state has no state income tax.

Why should Oregon, with the highest state income tax in the country, also have property taxes that are more than twice what a neighbor state's are, a state that has no income tax?

Property tax inequities are fierce. When I lived in North Portland a little over a decade now, I conducted my own "research," and found enormous disparities between houses of similar or dissimilar value. Mine happened to be relatively lower value but certifiably much higher tax assessment, which was infuriating.

That said: the only thing I am sure about regarding any property tax realignments is that they will not be revenue neutral. Which is probably the only thing sticking equally in everyone's craw.

I have three answers for this question -

And Flipping NO!

Gads, and y'all keep voting these pinheads into office - sheesh.

I've suggested this one before. The most equitable way to set property tax values is for the owner of the property to set the value as of a specific date - such as January 1st. The owner can set the value to any amount, but would be required to sell the property at for the amount set.

The owner would set the value high if they wanted to keep the property in hopes that nobody would buy their property or low if they wanted to sell the property.

People would have all year to seek properties they would like to buy, then if the value is right on January 1st they buy the property.

I currently pay $2000 more in tax than neighbors on the same street. I don't now exactly how to fix the property tax system in Portland, but the current system is very inequitable and Measure 5 is the reason.

And for those who can't pay attention very long, I'll repeat: The city's proposed change would make matters worse.

Man, I pay $5K right now and if this was the case the new owner would have to pay at least 75% more, something approaching $9K! That would be nuts! (and I think my taxes are already nuts because when I bought this place in '06 they were $2800... and then I was "re-assessed").

Property tax limits are out the window anyway if you so much as add an electrical circuit because they can use that as an excuse to "re-assess". And they wonder why people don't pull permits!


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