Thursday, April 4, 2013

From "shall" to "may" means all of us pay

Ohio State legislators recently picked your pocket and you don't even know it.

How did it feel?

Not since the fornicator-in-chief debated the meaning of the word "is"  has a simple verb been used to impose such an outrage on our citizens.

Perhaps  most disturbing   is the sneaky way that our representatives carried out this larceny  with barely a ripple in the media.

Here's the story.

Your property taxes are decided by the county auditor's determination of the fair market value of your home or business real estate.

Obviously, the market itself reflects value.

If your property sells for $100,000 in the competitive arena of commerce, then the fair market value is $100,000.

Up until September 2012, that was the law.

Ohio Revised Code Section 5713.03  stated that the county auditor "shall" set the true value of your property at the same dollar amount as the purchase price obtained in a recent arm's-length transaction.

Simply stated, you cannot be taxed for a property value set higher than the dollar amount you recently paid in a good faith purchase of a parcel.

With virtually no coverage in newspapers, the internet, television, or radio, the people you send to Columbus  screwed you.

They passed House Bill 487, which changed the word from "shall" to "may".

The law stating that the county auditor "shall" set the value to be the same as a recent purchase price was very quietly rewritten to state that the county auditor "may" set the value to be the same as a recent purchase price.

Greedy County  officials, anxious to inflate their tax collections, have now been given permission to ignore the true value of your property as determined by the economy.

They can now  eschew that recent sale price and set the value at a level significantly higher because some political hack appraiser appointed by the county wants to keep his bosses happy.

After all, what is a major source of County revenue?

You guessed it: real estate taxes.

County fiscal officers continue to set values into the stratosphere despite the fact that your average chimpanzee can see that neighborhood values have crashed and remain at historically low levels.

The only slight chance the little guy had to defeat this self-serving  system lay in the mandatory "shall" language of Ohio Revised Code 5713.03.

Now the little guy has been sliced into mincemeat through this barely noticed new law converting the word "shall" to "may".

I am disgusted by this bit of real estate tax skullduggery.

Our politicians are so starved for your money that they are willing to completely disconnect the process of county auditor valuation from reality.

In other words, your property is not worth what the market determines in an actual transaction: it's worth what the government says it's worth.

Listen, you Columbus lawmakers, if you don't fix this atrocity, the voters will say that you are worth the contents of this parenthesis
 (                          ).

How's that for a reality check for politicians?

Have a nice day.


  1. I completely agree with you. It comes as no surprise that when people hold the government to their own rules, the government just changes the rules. I sued the Lake County auditor about 3 years ago, and received a unanimous decision in my favor from the 8th District Court of Appeals on this very issue. So now the law has changed to some ambiguous rule that is now blurred, a big gray area that defines nothing, and makes it impossible for a citizen to fight the county's valuation of their property. What is wrong with Columbus, laws are supposed to define and clarify things. So now what next? Why not randomly assign value to other things that are taxed, such as buying a car, or a tv, or anything else? "Who cares what you paid for it, we want more of your money."

  2. Dear Anonymous: Thanks for the comment. I am urging the state reps. to repeal this change. This kind of sneak attack bespeaks the cowardace of our leaders. Keep reading.

  3. Thank you Mr. Lynch. Your column will be used in my own and many other Board of Revision (Auditor) Hearings as evidence. Your one column will likely save me many times the price of News Herald home delivery, and as long as you keep this up I won't miss an issue.