Both local and the federal government count on tax revenue for funding. Although many of us are willing to pay our fair share of taxes because of the services we rely on provided by the government, there can become a point when the property, sales, income, and other kinds of taxes are just too much.
In such case, the average person has a couple of legitimate options when it comes to protesting those taxes. The purpose of this article is to touch on those options, as well as to note a couple of not-so-common approaches to protesting taxes.
Property Tax Protests
Perhaps the most common type of tax that affects individuals that can be readily protested is that of property tax. If you are a homeowner, you are likely aware that you will typically receive in the first half of the year notification from your local appraisal district of the assessed value of your home and the estimate property tax you will therefore owe on your property.
If you believe the assessed value of your property is too high, appraisal districts have processes for how you can protest the property value. Note that you cannot base such protests simply on a belief that your tax is too high but must be based on some form of factual data. That data must be the assessed value of nearby similar properties or the recent sales price of such properties.
If such data shows that the assessed value of your property is out of line with the value of your property, you can typically get an immediate reduction in the assessed property value and therefore the amount of property tax you will have to pay at the end of the year.
Voting and Political Activism
For many other types of tax, the only method of addressing the tax may be to let your vote do the talking. Whether it is voting against an increase in sales or other tax help pay for a new stadium or voting for a political candidate who plans to reduce taxes, your vote along with those of like-minded individuals has the power to affect the amount of tax you pay.
Tax Protests in the News
There are cases where individuals and groups have taken other steps in an effort to protest taxes. And perhaps the argument can be made that such approaches, because they gain coverage from the media and therefore bring to light the nature of the protests, are having the intended effect of educating the public. Regardless, following are two recent examples of such protests.
Pennsylvania Man Pays Property Tax Using $1 Bills
A Pennsylvania man who felt his property tax bill was too high has taken an unusual approach to protesting those taxes. He paid the $7,143 he owed using $1 bills.
Robert Fernandes of Forks Township, Pennsylvania, brought a bag full of stacks of $1 bills and a box of doughnuts to the tax collectors office. The doughnuts were a peace offering of sorts for anyone inconvenienced by the time it took to count the over 7,000 individuals bills that he literally brought to the table.
“I’m not doing this to make anybody’s life more difficult,” Fernandes told representatives at the tax collector’s office. “Unfortunately, I wish the same could be said, you know, for me and many others whose lives are more difficult for having to pay property taxes.”
Representatives of the tax collector’s office said they understood Fernandes’ protest but felt it would have been better directed toward the school board responsible for setting property taxes.
Demonstrators Plan to Hand Out Free Marijuana Cigarettes in Denver in Protest to Taxation
Protestors in Denver plan to hand out thousands of marijuana cigarettes on Monday for free in protest of Proposition AA, which if passed will impose a 25 percent tax on the sale of marijuana in Colorado.
“The marijuana industry wants to pay taxes and supports these issues very well but these measures would simply be too far and out of reach for people who consume marijuana,” said Miguel Lopez, who represents the No on Proposition AA Campaign.
The goal of Lopez is to call out that a black market for marijuana sales could flourish as a result of the high taxation.
“We believe that this is good for business because it sets the stage for responsible business owners to operate within a well-regulated business environment,” noted Norton Arbelaez in defense of the proposed tax. Arbelaez is a representative of the Medical Marijuana Industry Group.
The sale of recreational marijuana is slated to begin on January 1, 2014.
Mark has been a contributor to legal web sites related to bankruptcy, tax, and criminal law since 2011. He has an Accounting degree from Texas A&M University.