There’s a chart that I’ve always wanted to make but can’t find the data. You people love data so maybe you can help. The chart would relate the actual assessment (or property tax, it’d represent the same thing) to the actual household income. (It’s actual income per Wayland household data I can’t find, can find the median, average, etc. – the state might not want to publish it.)

You can visualize the chart: Wayland’s 4,000 households, a vertical bar graph with low income households on left rising to high income households on right. And a bright red line tracing the assessment/tax paid by each household. It’s easy to assume that the red line would show that lower income households pay a much larger percentage of their income to property tax than the higher income households and consequently the burden is greater on the people who actually have less money in absolute terms.

Ain’t it grand

As a solution to the “new avenue of taxation” problem and maybe some of the unintended consequences, how about:

Rather than an additional income tax maybe a “progressive” property tax credit determined by income (or lack thereof)? The lower your income the greater your credit, fading away as income grows with some top limit where the credit stops. This wouldn’t create a second new type of tax and it might even already be legal.

I’d also vote for a minimum property tax (say, $5,000) that everybody pays regardless of income. This would not only catch the low income rich guy but also the low income regular homeowner. Seems everybody should pay something and the homeowner has a very valuable asset (i.e., the house) whose value can be used to pay taxes. Not to use the house’s value (say in an older person’s case) would actually be protecting the assets of that homeowner’s children. I don’t see any reason why the other taxpayers should be obligated to do that.

Any unintended consequences?

The real solution

To both the problems of people having difficulty with taxes and the existence of very high taxes in general, the answer would be to increase the income of all the town’s residents. You could do this by forcing the poorer folks out of town (I guess that’s what we do now). I’d prefer financial planning, investment advice/coordination, whatever, that helped everyone. If the town was an actual community we could work on this.