More than a month after Indiana lawmakers passed legislation providing temporary property tax rebates to help offset rapidly rising home values, people are apparently not buying it. The Indianapolis Star notes that several property assessors in Marion County have requested police protection against irate homeowners when their tax bills arrive.
In a sense, these homeowners are right. When your property tax bill goes up 20 percent over a period when you haven't gotten 20 percent richer, the property tax can seem pretty unfair.
But Indiana faces special circumstances. The state has been notoriously bad at accurately assessing property values-- and much of what's happening now is simply rectifying past wrongs.
That doesn't make the tax hikes any more painful for Indiana homeowners-- but it's important to understand that one underlying factor here is that the property tax system is finally working right.
What angry homeowners should know is that even with the improvements in assessment practices, it didn't have to be this way. Lawmakers could have enacted tax changes that shift Indiana's tax system away from the property tax towards some other source. But instead, they chose to leave property tax bills alone and provide highly visible "tax rebates" that won't arrive until weeks, or months, after homeowners have paid their property tax bills.
Lawmakers are probably patting themselves on the back for their PR ploy of sending a check in the mail to aggrieved homeowners-- but the self-congratulation may end soon if this (preventable) voter outrage over rising property taxes continues.