Thursday, February 14, 2008

A better mousetrap

This blog talks about the possibility of the County Assessor using aerial photography to survey properties and to catch tax cheats.

Here is how the system works: City and county agencies provide copies of building permits that were issued to the assessor. The assessor calculates the value of the property which goes to the auditor who applies the correct tax rate to determine the actual amount of property taxes owed.

Thus homeowners have an incentive to not inform their city when significant improvements are made to the property. This avoids the fee associated with filing building permits and also the increase in assessed tax rates.

Aerial photography is freely available which could allow the county assessor to match up what is supposed to be on your property on paper and what actually exists on the premises.

Since home values are declining in many parts of the country, this has the effect of lowering the assessed value of homes, lowering the amount of property tax collected. Using existing technologies to catch property tax evaders could help close that gap.

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