In recent times, tax talk has been in the air in Monroe County. A property tax increase was passed by the county commissioners but a sales tax increase was turned down at the ballot box.
People, in this area at least, will never vote for a tax increase, even one as small as a quarter of a cent sales tax that would add about 50 cents to every $50.
The property tax increase of 23 cents will probably be felt a little more, so of course it’s the one we get. The reason for the tax increase is simply because Monroe County doesn’t have enough money to operate on. You can dig up all kinds of reasons the county doesn’t have enough money to get by, from taking on too many building projects to way overpaid county officials.
But the truth is the cost of everything has gone up, but people expect governments to keep operating like costs are fixed at 1974 prices. And politicians are happy to indulge them, thinking the promise of low taxes will help them keep cushy jobs that really don’t require that much work.
Nobody likes a tax increase. But that money does go to pay for stuff that we all agree we need. Roads, schools, law enforcement, fire protection and varied other things. If you think taxes are high, try paying to drive on private roads, go to private schools and have a private company protect you from the evil world.
The average Monroe County resident pays, probably, $1,000-$1,500 a year for all of those services through property taxes. And yes, I know some of you pay a whole lot more, but you’ve probably got lots of money, so no sympathy for you.
And yes, some sales tax does go to the local coffers, but the bulk of sales tax goes to the state.
Those of us who pay our property taxes once a year and then don’t think about it for another 364 days always like to point out that taxes are much worse in other areas of the country. That’s usually met with, “That’s why we’re living here, moron! We don’t like high taxes!”
Well, most of you live here because it’s where you were born. Same goes for your parents and grandparents. Those who have moved here for the tax rate are usually a little older, retired and sold a small house for a fortune “up there” and bought a McMansion on the lake here for a quarter of their selling price up there.
Compared to the rest of the country, according to a study done by our buddies at WalletHub, Tennessee is 48th when it comes tax burdens. We’re only two states away from having the best tax setup in the country. We’re even better than Florida (number 46), long considered a haven for those who want every penny for themselves.
Who has it better than us? Delaware (49!!) and Alaska (50). Alaska I can understand as I think only 14 people and a bunch of polar bears live there. But Delaware? Isn’t that one of those Northeastern states where the tax rate is 99%?
What’s the state with the worst tax situation? New York, of course. We all hate New York around here, even though 94% of us have probably never been anywhere near the state.
Hawaii has the second worst tax setup. If your dream is to live on the island paradise, where it never gets cold, I can’t imagine the tax rate would run you off. Maybe the crime rate they don’t like to talk about would, but I doubt property taxes would make you leave your dream behind.
I do wonder what all the tax haters around here think about Trump swearing he’s going to eliminate the payroll tax. They may be cheering in the streets, but Social Security and Medicaid are funded by the payroll tax. Republicans have wanted both of those programs gone from their inception, but a lot of them use both programs.
I don’t know about you, but the wealth train went flying by while I was in the bathroom, so if I get to be old, Social Security will be all I’ll have to get by on. And I assume Medicaid will be all that pays for all the ills I’ll undoubtedly encounter as the days get short.
If you want to read the tax study yourself, you can see it at https://wallethub.com/edu/states-with-highest-lowest-tax-burden/20494/