[Here's the text of an email I sent last evening to Georgia State Rep. Bob Smith, R-Watkinsville...]
Dear State Representative Smith:
According to a recent article in the Athens Banner-Herald, you said you weren’t familiar with property tax circuit breakers and wanted to learn more about them.
Same goes for me. From the article, I understand that the “circuit breakers” cap property taxes based on income and are meant to help prevent low-income homeowners in gentrifying neighborhoods from being taxed out of their homes.
This sounds like a good idea to me, but—like you—I want to know more about the policy and its potential consequences. So, I did a quick search on the internet and found these resources. I haven’t read all of them yet, but they all look like they’d be worthwhile introductory reads.
1. Just published in May 2009, Property Tax Circuit Breakers: Fair and Cost-Effective Relief for Taxpayers, is a comprehensive report from the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy.
2. The Property Tax Circuit Breaker: An Introduction and Survey of Current Programs is a 2007 report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Start with this one: it’s short (well, shortish...just 18 pages)
3. Property Tax Credits Offered Through State Income Tax Systems is a 2005 report from the Tax Policy Center. The report looks at state circuit breaker programs as well as homestead credits/exemptions and property tax deferral policies.
I’m sure there’s a lot more out there to read on the subject, including some conservative perspectives on the issue. (Most of these reports are from non-partisan organizations that you could probably classify as center-left.) But these reports seem serious and well researched; their arguments and data can’t be just ignored. At the very least, they’re not a bad place to start learning about the issue.
Anyway, I’d be interested to hear from you on the issue as you learn more about it.
Thanks for your attention. I appreciate it.
PS: A copy of the text of this email will appear on my blog, My Athens, June 25.
[Image credits: Screen shot of email to Rep. Smith, top. Rep. Smith, Georgia General Assembly legislative page, right.]