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Saturday, January 28, 2023

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Real Property Assessments

Dear Source:
Having been through a number of reassessments here on the mainland, I know they are not likely to bring calm and serenity. However, if reassessment is performed by qualified, honest and objective persons, it should not and does not cause unfair financial impacts. It is true that some lucky persons will find that they own property which is substantially more valuable than they thought it was and, depending on the local taxation situation, could find their taxes increased substantially due to the greatly increased value of their property. And yes, if they do not have a source of income to allow payment of the increased taxes might strongly encourage the sale of the property to avoid the taxes and derive the financial benefit of the increased property value. This does oversimplify the reasons property tax should not be the major source of governmental revenue, that, is the disconnect between the value of real property and the income of the owner which provides the ability to pay the taxes.
The Virgin Islands government documents available online, or otherwise easily available, do not indicate the total assessed value of real property. However, they do indicate that only 5.67% of the territory's government revenue is derived from property taxation. Thus, while there may well be substantial changes in individual property valuations resulting in some increases in taxation, the overall pattern of government funding is not substantially derived from property taxation. Thus, the impact of reapportioned taxes should not be significant to very many people AS LONG AS THE GOVERNMENT DOES NOT USE THE REAPPORTIONMENT AS AN EXCUSE TO CHANGE THE PATTERN OF RAISING REVENUE. The latter, of course, is a function of politics, NOT reapportionment.
William T. Tyrrell
Voorheesville, N.Y.

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