Letters to the Editor

Feedback: Public penalized for faulty taxes

George Bernard Shaw said, “People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don’t believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstance they want, and if they can’t find them, make them.”

In response to Sharon Johnson’s letter from the March 30, issue of the Whidbey News-Times, we are not complaining about having to pay property taxes. After all, everyone must give Caesar his due. What we are taking issue with is how properties are assessed, the fact that incorrect assessments are sent out consistently and that amended statements are mailed months after the fact. With, we might add, fees and penalties assigned for figures that have only just now been calculated. The tax payer should not be penalized for paying last year’s taxes “late,” when statements for last year arrive five months into this year!

Who says we’ll benefit if and when we sell our home? Many of us moved to this island because we planned to retire here with no desire to move again. Who is to say the market will not deflate? In that case, our property value decreases, but our property taxes will keep increasing. Whidbey Island may not be on some “greatest places to retire” list according to a magazine now, but that might not always be the case. Further, we don’t know about you Ms. Johnson, but every time we’ve gone house hunting throughout the years, one of the things we definitely look at is how much property tax we’d be paying if we bought a particular home, along with what kind of services we’ll be getting for that tax. Making a profit when you sell your home consists of a lot more than just increased value too. Is it a buyer’s market or a seller’s one? What are the interest rates at? Has one updated and improved their home since buying it? Is the home in a still desirable part of the town? We’re told that making improvements to your home doesn’t raise your property tax, but of course it does. Improvements, if done right, raise the value of your home. When your home is appraised at a higher value, your taxes become higher. You’ve already paid taxes on the supplies you’ve purchased to improve your home, paid for a home improvement permit (which in reality is a tax no matter what they call it) and then your county taxes you for making those improvements. Doesn’t sound fair, does it?

Many people, especially in these days, may be able to initially afford to buy a home. Yet they find themselves struggling to keep up with the cost of owning one. A contractor can come in, build a sub-division and get a tax break; so will all the new business that move into town. We the people that have already been living here for years get the luxury of paying for a new sewer lines, bigger or new schools, paved roads and everything else required to support that infrastructure. The only people that benefit from a system like that are the folks who already have money to begin with. Those who have diligently paid their property taxes for years upon years never get a break.

April 30, the due date of the first installment of property taxes, will soon come and go. Will everyone stay quiet till the problems rear their ugly heads again come October, when the second installment is due? We can’t stop the battle just because the battlefield clears for a few months. The problem will still be there, and “We the People” should still mean something. We need to create circumstances that are fair, equal and livable. Don’t be held hostage by a system that is so seriously flawed. Work to make positive changes happen. More than 1,100 people disputed their taxes. Numbers don’t lie, or do they?

Luanne Raavel

Coupeville

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