Saturday, May 12, 2012

Property Taxes are Rent Payments to Government

HARBESON: What your ‘rent' is really paying for

> SOUTHERN INDIANA — I hope those of you who have property here in Floyd and/or Clark County remembered that today, May 10, is the due date for making your semiannual rent payment to county government.

Most of you probably don’t think of your property tax payment as rent. You believe that you own property you purchased. But think about what would happen if you don’t pay this rent — eventually people who represent the government will kick you off and take full possession. If this is considered a legitimate act, then do you really own the property?

Government supporters say that your property tax statement is like any other bill you receive in the voluntary market for services provided to you. But does that match with reality? When other organizations, even monopolies like water and electricity, provide services you are charged for actual usage. Most importantly, if you do not pay these bills, the service providers do not kick you out of your home and take possession. They claim ownership only for the value of services you used.

Ahh, but some people will say that the government provides services people use that cannot be “shut off” or denied due to nonpayment. Therefore, you must be forced to pay your “fair” share. Somehow (don’t ask me to explain it) the value the government itself assigns to your property directly relates to your usage of those services.

But even if you accept this as justification for kicking people out of legitimately purchased property if they don’t pay the rent, how do you draw clear lines for specific items the rent payment is applied to?

For example, take a look at your government rental bill — the largest item will likely be schools. Certainly there are many who never incur any usage of schools, and heavier users do not pay more. Should a childless couple be kicked off property they purchased if they don’t pay for schools for the six kids their neighbor chose to have?

And what about grandiose building projects? Should an individual be kicked out of her home for not funding huge enclosures of unusable space like the atrium at Floyd Central High School? Or perhaps the force is justified when such extravagance can help architecture firms boast about winning design awards?

Some people say we need to pay rent for the so-called justice system. Should people be kicked out of their homes for not funding extra costs that are the direct result of the ineptness of county prosecutors who make serious errors in judgment related to a never-ending murder trial? (Someone really ought to write a book about that one.)

Should people be forced to fund a “donation” for operations of a Sister Cities program in Clarksville? This program already has many corporate sponsors and if the people involved are so passionate shouldn’t they be going out and getting more sponsors rather than taking other people’s money?

Jeffersonville Township spent thousands of dollars to fund a specific church’s food pantry, yet many local charities run food pantries. So how is it valid to kick people out of their home for not funding this particular pantry?

This is just a sampling of how your money is being spent by local governments. If you want to really dig in for yourself, you can see details for every local government entity by going to

Some of the items I mentioned above are paid directly from the rent you pay to the county so you can live at your current residence even though you thought you owned it, and some may be paid using other forms of taxation, but they all demonstrate how government will expand far beyond any initial justifications that people are merely being sent bills to pay for “services” used.

— Clark County resident Debbie Harbeson has been told she has lots of empty space between her ears so she’s decided to offer it for rent. If interested write to

1 comment:

  1. "Property taxes" were the issue that really first awakened me to the coercive and illegitimate nature of government- back when I was a young teenager not inclined to think of such things.