⏩ Ending car tax would raise prop­erty as­sess­ment rates.

The News-Times - - FRONT PAGE - By Jack Kramer

HART­FORD — A bill that would elim­i­nate car taxes but make up for the loss of lo­cal rev­enue by in­creas­ing the prop­erty tax as­sess­ments on homes and busi­nesses was panned Mon­day by the two mu­nic­i­pal lob­bies.

The bill calls for phas­ing out prop­erty taxes on mo­tor ve­hi­cles over a five-year pe­riod, ex­cept on rental cars, and in­creases the prop­erty tax as­sess­ment rate from 70 per­cent to 100 per­cent to off­set the mu­nic­i­pal rev­enue loss. The bill was one of 15 that was up for a Fi­nance, Rev­enue and Bond­ing Com­mit­tee pub­lic hear­ing.

Bills, in­clud­ing some that would im­pose a flat, statewide tax rate for all cars re­gard­less of which town they’re reg­is­tered in, have been raised in the past. A law passed sev­eral years ago sought to use a half per­cent of the sales tax to off­set losses in towns that ended up los­ing money from low­er­ing their mo­tor ve­hi­cle tax mill rate. The theme is the same — that it is un­fair that the same car is taxed at dif­fer­ent rates de­pend­ing on the mu­nic­i­pal­ity where it is reg­is­tered.

Dur­ing the re­cent gu­ber­na­to­rial cam­paign, Gov. Ned La­mont floated the idea of a sin­gle statewide rate for mo­tor ve­hi­cle taxes as a fairer, more eq­ui­table way for all tax­pay­ers.

Mu­nic­i­pal lead­ers say that’s a great idea in the­ory, but won­der where they are go­ing to make up for the lost rev­enue.

Har­win­ton First Select­man Michael Criss, tes­ti­fy­ing on be­half of the Con­necti­cut Coun­cil of Small Towns, said: “shift­ing more than $850 mil­lion onto the backs of home­own­ers will over­whelm prop­erty tax­pay­ers and dev­as­tate hous­ing values through­out the state.”

“Elim­i­nat­ing this tax and in­creas­ing the uni­form as­sess­ment rate, will shift hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars in additional prop­erty taxes onto home­own­ers and busi­nesses,” Criss said.

Criss said mu­nic­i­pal lead­ers from Con­necti­cut’s smaller com­mu­ni­ties are very con­cerned that res­i­dents are at a tip­ping point. Home­own­ers in our com­mu­ni­ties are frus­trated about ris­ing prop­erty tax lev­els.

Changes in fed­eral law that capped the amount of state and lo­cal taxes res­i­dents can deduct from their in­come taxes have shined a spot­light on Con­necti­cut’s prop­erty tax bur­dens, Criss added.

“Un­for­tu­nately, SB-1139 will make things worse by in­creas­ing the cost of home­own­er­ship and di­min­ish­ing hous­ing values. Not only will this im­pose a greater bur­den on al­ready over­bur­dened home­own­ers, it will un­der­mine Con­necti­cut’s econ­omy.”

Chim­ing in was Randy Collins, ad­vo­cacy man­ager for the Con­necti­cut Con­fer­ence of Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties (CCM).

While Collins ac­knowl­edged that “the as­sess­ment of prop­erty taxes on ve­hi­cles can vary widely for the iden­ti­cal car based on lo­ca­tion,” on the other hand, he said mo­tor ve­hi­cle prop­erty taxes gen­er­ate ap­prox­i­mately $925 mil­lion an­nu­ally for towns and ci­ties.

“If we pro­ceed to elim­i­nate this tax, it must be done through a care­fully thought-out process that does not cre­ate a new class of win­ners and losers,” Collins said.

“Sim­ply elim­i­nat­ing the tax on mo­tor ve­hi­cles, even if done through a five-year phase out, and shift­ing that bur­den onto real prop­erty, will shift a sig­nif­i­cant bur­den onto busi­nesses that do not own ve­hi­cles, ur­ban home­own­ers that do not own cars and uti­lize pub­lic transporta­tion, and to se­niors,” Collins said.

Collins of­fered that CCM would be will­ing to work with leg­is­la­tors on the con­cept of elim­i­nat­ing the car tax, “but any plan that re­duces $925 mil­lion in lo­cal rev­enue must pro­vide for a means to re­place it. To sim­ply shift that rev­enue loss onto an al­ready strained prop­erty tax base is prob­lem­atic to say the least.”

Elim­i­nat­ing the prop­erty tax on mo­tor ve­hi­cles will cost the Town of Litch­field more than $1.5 mil­lion per year,” First Select­man Leo Paul said. “With­out this rev­enue, our town will be left with a mas­sive hole in its bud­get — a hole that will have to be plugged by in­creas­ing the mill rate on home­own­ers and busi­nesses or cut­ting crit­i­cal ser­vices.”

Eric Gjede, vice pres­i­dent of gov­ern­ment af­fairs for the Con­necti­cut Busi­ness and In­dus­try As­so­ci­a­tion, told the com­mit­tee that the “busi­ness com­mu­nity is con­cerned that this leg­is­la­tion ul­ti­mately re­sults in a shift­ing of the prop­erty tax bur­den from res­i­den­tial prop­er­ties on to com­mer­cial prop­er­ties.

“If en­acted, it is con­ceiv­able that rather than low­er­ing the mill rate to keep the tax flat for all tax­pay­ers, mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties may elect to keep the cur­rent mill rates in place and only pro­vide re­lief via tax credit to res­i­den­tial prop­erty owners,” Gjede said.

Sen. John Fon­fara, D-Hart­ford, and cochair­man of the com­mit­tee, said if the bill did move for­ward it would in­clude lan­guage to en­sure that tax bur­den wouldn’t be shifted from res­i­den­tial onto com­mer­cial prop­erty.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.