death and taxes

They say that we all face the same eventuality, i.e. death and taxes.  The grim reality is that we cannot escape either, though it seems that there is a more concentrated effort to prolong life than to abolish taxes.  Which is kind of a two edged sword.  We may someday cheat death but in the doing  we are thereby prolonging taxes.  It is a vicious circle.

In the good old days a home buyer took out a 30 year mortgage, made his payments and within the span of his working life paid the house off free and clear then retired.  It was called the American Dream, because after the war (the big one, WWII) all those veterans came home to a bustling economy and the GI bill.  Every working class family moved up in status, becoming homeowners thanks to the federal government.  It was a good partnership, happy taxpayers meant a strong, decisive government.  But something happened along the way, the servant became the master and now a man’s home is not his castle.  The walls have been breached, the dragon is loose.

Here in Florida the economy has been on a swoon as of late, in the span of a year a booming market has fallen and with that comes less construction.  Less construction means less work and so the job market begins to fluctuate.  No work means no money and no money leaves unpaid bills and unpaid taxes.  The working class can’t pay the rising costs of insurance (another favorite subject of mine) and taxes, because homes are assessed at the market price of last year and not the continually lowering price of this year and the years to come.  The vultures come in to capitalize on the unpaid tax bills and pick up some nice bargains along the way.  Miraculously the economy seemingly doesn’t dip all that much.  But Harry Homeowner struggles and may fall, the dream now a hallow one. 

Or by a little bit of luck and a second job, a wife that also must work, Harry makes his 30 years and retires.  Whew!  That was a close call, Harry.  A lot of people in the neighborhood didn’t make it.  But you persevered and beat the odds.  Raised a family, paid your taxes and satisfied your mortgage lender.  You’re now on easy street and nobody can take away what you’ve worked so hard for all your life.  Or can they?

The government has decided that the run down neighborhood you stayed in all this time is now better suited for a shopping center.  They want to change it into commercial instead of residential property.  After all, the tax revenue now is much greater than what it was when you moved in.  Eminent Domain is what they call it and Harry… your castle has been sold at “fair” market value.

But it could have been worse for ol’ Hare.  Imagine he moved into an area that was not only being developed as a residential neighborhood, it was barely being formed as a town.  Back in the late sixties you could hardly give the property away, but Harry saw the potential as a younger man and invested in the future.  Now that he has reached retirement, it appears that his investment has paid off, the area has grown now… well over a hundred thousand people.  Harry saw it coming and now he beams with pride when people talk of his farsightedness, his knack for being in the right place at the right time.  But did I mention that the bustling city of Cape Coral, Florida has now levied a twenty two thousand dollar charge for water and sewer?  Now you are required to hook up to their new system.  (and that doesn’t include the cost off connecting to the controversial project.)  Don’t worry if you can’t pull the funds out of your cookie jar, Harry, the local government will just put a lien on your property.  Your public servant at work.

Hey, it could be worse.  The oldest person in America died yesterday, she was 116.  Imagine all the taxes she paid in HER lifetime!



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