Sunday, October 23, 2005
View to a Kill..er Tax
The one-room cabin David Bischoff built in a cow pasture three years ago has no electricity, no running water, no phone service and no driveway.
What it does have is a wide-open view of the surrounding hills -- a view valued at $140,000, according to the latest townwide property revaluation.
The so-called "view tax" increased the value of his property sevenfold, from $22,900 to $162,900, a figure he believes is far more than its actual value. He expects a sharp jump in his $500 annual property taxes as well.
Carreiro argues the state's rural character is at stake, because high "view taxes" will force farmers to sell to developers and price rural residents out of homes their families have lived in for generations. Sprawling development also will hurt tourism, he says.
"We're trying to talk about preserving open space in this state," Carreiro told the state Board of Tax and Land Appeals last week. "This is going to destroy the fabric of our communities -- people on fixed incomes, the elderly, young families."
John Lynch, a farmer from Hill, said the "view tax" threatens the survival of family farms. While farmers get a tax break on agricultural land, they don't get one for the farmhouse.
"There's not a farm in the state that doesn't have some type of view," Lynch said. "The assessors say, `We're not assessing farmland. We're assessing the farmhouse.' On a family farm, it's all one unit and you're jeopardizing the farm itself."
John Chandler, a retired engineer and former state legislator who also lives in Hill, objects to paying for a distant view of the White Mountains because he doesn't own it and can't control it.
A revaluation last year doubled the base value of his property, although Chandler said the view is obscured by air pollution much of the time.
Besides, he's legally blind.
"What if the landowner is blind?" he said. "I'm not enjoying that view, at least not as much as Avitar thinks I should be."
There are none so blind as those who can not see.Three simple words.. state income tax!
See our Podcast for more wity banter about the view tax.