North Dakota Takes a Hard Look at Property Taxes

There was an election today in North Dakota. One of the items on the ballot was an option to sunset real estate (property) taxes:

Under Measure 2, property taxes would be eliminated and the Legislature would be ordered to supply replacement revenue to the local governments that depend on them. The state Tax Department estimated the needed sum would be more than $800 million annually.


“When I pay off my mortgage, I want to be able to have clear title to my property just the way you can have clear title on your vehicle,”[Mike Kramer] said while stopping to vote early Tuesday at the Bismarck Civic Center. “I’m willing to pay another sort of tax to make that up, but I don’t like the idea of property taxes.”

What a concept. One would actually own one’s property outright. Might I go so far as to think such a move would be practical capitalism?

Glen Tschirgi nails it:

What I love most about this ballot measure is the way it brings into question every assumption of local governance for the last 100 years. You can almost hear the local politicians sputtering and choking as they consider the changes that would be needed if they suddenly did not have this $800 million to keep themselves employed.   Public employee unions, too, obviously see that the elimination of the property tax means an empty trough.   Although total elimination of the property tax may not be the exact solution, it forces everyone in North Dakota at least to re-think basic assumptions about public services and reconsider whether there might be alternatives.   This is the kind of thinking that America desperately needs today, and not just in North Dakota.\

There is nothing sacred about continuing to levy property taxes. In the interest of rebuilding our economy (both for the nation and the individual states) there is everything right with considering the most efficient way for government to do business–which also least infringes upon the rights of free people.

Regardless of the outcome in North Dakota upon tallying the votes, this is an idea whose time is come.