Re "Assessing Prop. 13," Opinion, May 29
Bill Stall shows the backward thinking of those who opposed Proposition 13 in 1978. Any formula by which public services rely on property taxation is inherently flawed. Property taxation is a 19th century relic, dating to a time when most wealth was in the hands of rich landowners. Given the housing crisis, it should be immediately evident that the ebb and flow of housing values does not correspond to earning power and the ability to pay tax increases or the cost of public services.
The real solution is to abandon property taxation entirely and figure out a fair, 21st century solution. That would be genuinely "progressive."
I cannot tell you how outraged I am by Stall's Op-Ed article. His attitude is: "We don't want to lose votes by balancing the budget, so let's bleed taxpayers again. Proposition 13 is in our way, so let's get rid of it." This callousness is why Proposition 13 was passed in the first place.
Let me ask Stall and our elected officials this: If you raise taxes to balance the budget this year, how are you going to balance it next year? And the year after that? And 10 years from now? My guess is that you never plan to balance the budget, you just plan to keep raising taxes.
Stall says Proposition 13 is only one part of an overly complex tax system that is inefficient, inequitable and out of date. Especially inequitable. The "fat cats" of the Westside, Palos Verdes, Laguna Beach and other upscale areas pay taxes on a small percentage of their million-dollar homes and cry piteously that Proposition 13 keeps the villainous tax man from taking their humble homes.
The solution is simple: Assess all properties, corporate and otherwise, at their current value and cap the tax rate at a level sufficient to generate the necessary funds for schools and important government operations. Then everyone would be on a level playing field of taxation. Don't hold your breath, however. The above-mentioned "fat cats" pack too much firepower to ever let a fair tax system prevail.