Hartford Mayor Eddie A. Perez is taking a different approach by proposing to tie property taxes to a homeowner's income. Those who own and live in one-, two- and three-family properties would pay no more than 4 percent of their income on that property. (Cohen)
The idea seems to be to encourage owner-occupancy while easing property tax burdens on poor families. Here's how it might work:
Take a property in the West End now taxed on the most recent assessment - dating to 1999 - of $114,660. The owner now pays $4,701 in taxes. If Hartford conducts a revaluation this year, city officials estimate it would be assessed at about $269,000 and, under the current tax scheme, the owner would pay $8,350.
Under Perez's plan, the amount of tax depends on who owns it. If the owner lives in the house and makes $90,000 year, the tax is capped at $3,600. If the owner-occupant makes $50,000, the cap is $2,000. But if the property is owned by a landlord who lives elsewhere, the city estimates a tax bill of more than $9,500. (Cohen)
Of course, the increases would be passed on to renters in the form of rent hikes, which doesn't exactly seem fair.
It is a novel plan, and one that's sure to draw attention. Then again, it really doesn't seem like anything more than a stopgap, and an attempt to make the system a little bit more fair. The massive costs of education and social services which cause high property taxes in Hartford and other towns and cities aren't going to go away any time soon.
The plan requires the approval of the General Assembly.
Cohen, Jeffrey. "Perez Tax Plan Bucks Norm." Hartford Courant 16 March, 2006.