Nobody likes it when their taxes go up. That was true 50 years ago and it’s still true today.
What is different today is the intensity of the anger and frustration over taxes, government and public officials. A down economy exacerbates that anger.
When some Franklin County taxpayers opened their personal property tax bills this year, they discovered that the assessed value of their older vehicles had gone up and consequently so did their taxes.
It was an unpleasant surprise that, you guessed it, got some taxpayers fired up.
How can that be? Conventional wisdom suggests older cars depreciate each year, not the other way around. The conjecture and innuendo was that there must be something going on in county government.
The explanation is less conspiratorial than many imagined.
Franklin County Assessor Tom Copeland explained that the state has implemented a new system for assessing personal property that tracks vehicle identification numbers to track value. Up until this year assessments were based on the year, make and model of the vehicle that the resident self-reported. The result under the new system is more accurate information on the vehicle which, in some cases, yields a higher assessed valuation.
The actual assessed values of vehicles are still tied to the National Automobile Dealers Association database. In other words, the assessor’s office isn’t making up the valuations on a whim or out of thin air.
Of course, the process still doesn’t take into consideration if the car has high mileage, dents or other damage that would impact the fair market value.
But in theory, the new system is more precise and fair because it uses more accurate information.
Copeland says that most people accept and even appreciate the explanation when they call to complain.
But he acknowledges that doesn’t mean they like it. That part of the equation never changes.