Sen Kane Op-Ed: What to ask as you pay that property tax bill (Danbury News-Times)

August 5, 2014

Editorial as it appeared in the Danbury News-Times

It’s that time of year again.

I’m not referring warm sunny days, swimming and picnics.

This is property tax bill season in Connecticut.

We all know the sinking feeling of discovering that particular tax bill in our mailbox. We wince as we tear open the envelope, bracing ourselves for what we are about to see. We ask ourselves, “What will the damage be this year?”

As you go through that unpleasant annual ritual and pay off your property tax bill, you may recall a misguided vote which took place three years ago at the State Capitol. A state budget bill backed by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and supported by majority Democrats in the state legislature was passed into law.

It was the largest tax increase in Connecticut history. Among those tax hikes was a $200 reduction in the state’s property tax credit paid on real estate and vehicles.

The property tax credit is very popular among state residents, especially with Connecticut’s middle-class. Hundreds of thousands of state residents have benefitted from the credit, and it has really meant something to working families who are struggling to pay their bills. For example, 88 percent of those who take the credit have annual incomes of less than $100,000 and 50 percent of those who take the credit make less than $50,000 a year.

The property tax credit has served as a much-needed injection of funds for state taxpayers over the years, and that money has been either circulated back into the economy, invested, or saved for a rainy day.

For the past three years, that property tax hike has delivered a significant blow to middle-class homeowners. Two hundred dollars a year, every year, adds up to a significant amount of money over time. Those who are retired and seniors on fixed incomes have felt the brunt of this tax hike, and it is not surprising to hear about more and more state residents leaving Connecticut for more affordable states.

Government actions have consequences. Three years ago, the state’s decision-makers in Hartford chose to raise your property taxes and avoided cutting wasteful government spending.

As you grit your teeth and pay those July property tax bills, pause to reflect on the money that has been taken away from you over the past three years.

Ask yourself, “How could I have used that extra money?”

State Sen. Rob Kane ( represents the 32nd Senate District, which includes Bridgewater, Roxbury, Southbury and Washington. He is ranking member of the General Assembly’s Appropriations Committee.