The Grassroots Corner May 6th, 2024

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  • Source: FAIRtax
  • 05/06/2024

Property Taxes - We have a better idea

The Washington D.C.-based think tank, Tax Foundation, is attacking our Nebraska Team for proposing a state equivalent of the FAIRtax nicknamed “EPIC.” EPIC, an acronym for “Eliminate Property, Income, and Corporate Taxes,” is a state-level proposal to replace these taxes at all levels of state government in Nebraska with a FAIRtax-style consumption tax. You can read the Tax Foundation’s criticisms here:,low%20rate%20of%207.5%20percent. And you can read more about EPIC here:

We will publish Rob Rohrbough’s excellent rebuttal next week, but I would like to focus on the Tax Foundation’s criticism of replacing Nebraska’s property tax. It is important to note, first, that the national FAIRtax does not replace property taxes because property taxes are uniquely local. 

But the EPIC plan does. The Tax Foundation asserts that property taxes, when structured correctly, are relatively efficient and that a well-designed property tax is more neutral than most other taxes. The Tax Foundation, however, omits a critical shortcoming of property taxes and must reconsider its stand.

Property taxes are an administrative headache leading to skewed tax results. Property values form the basis for such taxes, and changing markets call for frequent revaluation if the property tax burden is to fall equitably on all properties. 

Revaluations are expensive, burdensome, and time-consuming. Local governments are reluctant to subject their residents to this process. Their resulting infrequency leads to skewed property valuations. In a rising market, recently sold or renovated properties and new homes bear a disproportionate share of the tax burden. 

In one major city in the United States, the last revaluation occurred in 1988, thirty-six years ago. Unfortunately, this lag is common. Since then, housing prices have risen 278% nationwide and likely more in that state. As a result, properties that have remained in the same hands for years enjoy an unfair tax advantage over more recently sold or improved properties.

Another significant administrative problem is unfairness at the county level. In many states, property taxes fund a substantial share of county budgets, but the distribution of their burden varies among municipalities. Counties must devise "equalization" tables to ensure that residents of one municipality receive equivalent treatment to another. The tables can be arbitrary because municipalities revalue their property tax base in different years and with varying methodologies.

One state’s Supreme Court ruled that property taxes could not serve as the primary funding source for education. The Court noted that municipalities with predominantly few high-value homes assess a lower tax rate than those with many low-value homes. In addition to the Court’s observations, the system discourages the construction of high-value homes in areas with predominantly low-value homes.

In stark contrast to property taxes, the EPIC consumption tax is not only fair but also highly efficient. Its simplicity and ease of implementation eliminate the administrative burdens and inequities associated with property taxes. Therefore, the Tax Foundation should seriously reconsider its position about property taxes and take a more balanced look at the EPIC consumption tax, a fair and efficient alternative.

Does your state have any state taxes that should give way to a state-level FAIRtax such as EPIC?
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Jim Bennett
AFFT Grassroots Coordinator & Secretary


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