PHOENIX — The way self-proclaimed tax activist Lynne Weaver sees it, any individual who makes it to age 65should not have to pay property taxes on their homes.
Presently she is working with Randy Pullen, the former chairman of the state Republican Party, to try to put that exemption into the Arizona Constitution. Furthermore, under their proposal, it would not make any difference how wealthy the homeowners are and how much the property is worth.
Their initiative drive would expand on a program approved by voters in 2000 that freezes the property valuations of qualified seniors.
But eligibility for that is linked to income, a figure that for 2019 will be $37,008 for a single homeowner and $46,260 for couples who own property jointly
Weaver said that includes a lot of paperwork, and a new application must be submitted every three years.
Moreover, “We have too many people losing their home, unable to pay property taxes,” she said. “Why should just low-income people be able to stay in their home after they retire and they’re on a fixed income?”
That, in any case, still leaves the question of why the simple fact of turning 65 should exempt a property owner, who may have a very expensive home, from paying his or her share of the costs of running government.
Weaver, who acknowledged she is more older than 65, said financial well-being can be transitory.
“You may be well-off today,” she said. “But you may be diagnosed for something tomorrow that’s going to take everything you’ve got to keep up with it. Your life changes quickly.”
But there’s something deeper to Weaver’s philosophy: “Just because you have money doesn’t mean the government has a right to it,” she said.
Weaver got involved in trying to change Arizona’s laws after she moved here from California in 2001.
It isn’t so much that charges here were higher. They were not.
In any case, California homeowners are ensured by Proposition 13, the 1978 measure that moved back property valuations as well as capped year-over-year increments. Weaver said that implies stable assessments for as long as an individual possesses his or her home.
On the other hand, she stated, Arizona’s property charges are “unpredictable and inexplicable.”
That led four efforts by Weaver, most recently in 2016, to enact Proposition 13-style changes in Arizona. All failed to get enough signatures to qualify for the ballot.
Weaver presently figures she’ll have better luck with this focused on plan, influencing just seniors, despite the fact that she needs to gather 356,467 valid signatures by July 2, 2020 to make the ballot that year.
She said she hopes to get support from seniors as well as “individuals that trust some time or another to be 65 and need to remain in the family home.”
What isn’t obvious on its face, however, is that Weaver’s proposal, if approved, would mean higher taxes for everyone else.
Basically, property charges in Arizona are a zero-sum gain.
Neighborhood governments make sense of the amount they have to raise. They at that point partition that into the surveyed estimation of the influenced affected area and come up with a tax rate.
On the off chance that there are less properties to be taxed, that implies a lower overall assessed valuation. Also, that implies the tax rate being imposed on all the properties that stay subject to the levy has to be higher to raise a similar measure of cash.
Weaver is unapologetic. “The people over 65, most are not working,” she said. “They can’t go back and get a second job or a better job. They have what they have.”
She likewise said that there’s another motivation to offer seniors a break.
“It’s the people under 65 that have children in school,” she said. Reality is, however, property charges likewise support other government functions besides education.
She called attention to that Arizona officials have made special property tax breaks to lure businesses to the state. Also, there are different tax breaks that enable organizations to give their buildings to a city, or university, making the property tax exempt.
“We have that rampant now where the politicians excuse people of their choosing, companies of their choosing, from paying property taxes,” Weaver said. “So if we can do that for cronies and corporations, we can certainly help out people over 65.”
The proposal would not necessitate that seniors have lived in Arizona for any length of time — or have paid property taxes here — so as to meet all requirements for the total exemption. Actually, rich seniors could move here, purchase a multimillion-dollar property and owe nothing in property charges.
Weaver, in any case, said there’s a positive financial advantage. “I think you would see a lot of people moving to Arizona,” she said.
Once here, Weaver said, they would owe Arizona income taxes on any of the money they make from their investments.
“If they’re all moving here, we’re going to have to build some more houses,” she continued. “And they’re going to need restaurants and car washes and everything else.”