Move quickly on property tax relief |

Move quickly on property tax relief

The Nevada Legislature has less than two weeks to pass property tax relief legislation before county assessors move ahead with calculating tax hikes for the next fiscal year. Because of escalating property values in Nevada, especially at Lake Tahoe, we urge them to make the deadline to save our neighbors from potentially catastrophic short-term increases.

Failure to pass a bill, even a temporary solution, could mean thousands of dollars tacked on to the already hefty taxes Lake Tahoe homeowners pay for their homes, which have experienced double-digit percentage gains in value over the last decade. Because of Proposition 13 on the California side, Golden State residents’ tax rate growth is capped: As long as you own your home, the valuation of tax is tied to its original valuation. No such protection exists in Nevada.

A Proposition 13-style cap is the best solution for Nevada homeowners, although the Legislature is right to approach the issue with kid gloves: The rate in California has not kept up with inflation, even as home values have increased.

To avoid something as severe as Prop. 13, the Legislature must enact common-sense legislation that caps property tax growth across the board, for all homeowners. Assembly Minority Lynn Hettrick, R-Gardnerville, has proposed a 6 percent cap (as opposed to California’s 3 percent) for all homeowners. Although some negotiation may need to take place to develop a bipartisan solution, Hettrick’s idea is a step in the right direction.

Assembly Majority Leader Barbara Buckley, D-Las Vegas, also has a plan, but it calls for a special consideration for owners of homes valued at less than $500,000. Such a plan would penalize most Lake Tahoe homeowners – especially longtime homeowners – who have seen their property values increase exponentially.

Buckley’s assumption, that those who live in more valuable properties are better equipped to pay skyrocketing tax bills ,doesn’t necessarily ring true in Lake Tahoe.

For Nevada’s Lake Tahoe homeowners, home value appreciation is a double-edged sword. In order to see the benefits of increased valuations, homeowners must sell. In the meantime they are getting slammed with higher and higher tax bills. At some point many of these homeowners may be forced to sell because of taxes. That would be a shame.

If fairness is not enough incentive for the Legislature to act fast, then how about the possibility of a Prop. 13-style ballot measure? Such a measure would tie the Legislature’s hands in the future. If they want to maintain control over legislating taxes, they should do the right thing, and cap property taxes across the board. If no solution is developed, we will continue to see local Lake Tahoe homeowners moving away.

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