Taxing problem – what should I support?
December 17, 2003
By Kathryn Reed
Tribune managing editor
‘Tis the season to spend money. December has always been financially painful because of Christmas and both my parents’ birthdays being this month.
Then there was an unexpected expense earlier this month – supplemental taxes. No one tells you about these when you are buying a house – not the real estate agent, not the mortgage broker, not the title company, not the lender, not your friends, not your family. Apparently I was supposed to figure this out by osmosis.
I found out by going to the post office that I owed $1,500. Half was due Dec. 10, the other half on April 10. It’s a one-time addition to my property taxes. I understand it. I just think someone in the house selling/buying business could have warned me.
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Taxes. That and death, they say, are the only two things you can count on in life. I think taxes just may be the death of me.
Every week it seems there is a headline in the Tahoe Daily Tribune having something to do with taxes. The school district wants to add to my property tax pain with a parcel tax that will be on the April ballot.
My voting record is pretty good when it comes to school initiatives. I’m a huge supporter of public education – being a product of it and having several people close to me involved in it. It just seems like such poor timing. The election will be the week my next supplement tax payment is due. It’s also a week before the IRS comes knocking.
It is hard to believe an extra month will give the district the needed time to convince voters to tax themselves. You see, they could have saved themselves money and me psychological turmoil by having us vote on it in March during the statewide primary.
No doubt the district needs money, but it also needs to be fiscally responsible. Show me and the other voters that past mistakes will not be repeated, that a long-term financial blueprint will be in place. Explain to us why the district had a balanced budget a decade ago when it had the same number of students it does today, but now cannot get its financial house in order without taxing us. Has the cost of doing business really gone up that much? Have revenues declined so substantially? Or do salaries/benefits keep skyrocketing?
Then there is the city which talks about upping the sales tax in town. Good gawd, people are already driving off the hill because there is more variety of merchandise there and for less money. I’ll admit I bought skis in Oregon a few years ago because there is no sales tax there. Don’t keep chasing us away. Find reasons for us to spend our money in South Lake Tahoe.
The governor at least kept his promise by reversing his predecessor’s tripling of the Vehicle License Fee. It’s called a fee, but I still consider it a tax for vehicle owners.
Tourists will be hit harder come February when the transient occupancy tax goes up. No one is spared from taxes.
Maybe we should be given a choice of what services we want from districts, the city, county and state. Tell us the cost. Then we can decide if we want to pay for it through taxes. And hire qualified accountants.
This truly would be taxation with representation.
– Kathryn Reed is managing editor of the Tahoe Daily Tribune. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (530) 541-3880, ext. 251.
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