Arizona Tax Revolt petitions shipped

Homeowners across the state will soon hear a knock on their doors from volunteers circulating petitions.

The Arizona Tax Revolt organization started shipping out thousands of forms for its two tax initiatives to more than 1,000 volunteers across the state last week.

"The cat will be out of the bag in September when the county mails the tax bills. We want to make sure our volunteers are out there and visible," said Marc Goldstone, chairman of the Arizona Tax Revolt.

He hopes to qualify both of his tax initiatives for the November 2008 ballot. The organization has until July 3 to collect all the necessary signatures.

Both initiatives deal with secondary property taxes.

The first would roll back property tax levies to 2003 values starting in 2009.

The second initiative involves property valuations. Property values used to compute property taxes would be rolled back to 2003 starting in 2010. This would eliminate some of the inflation caused by the real estate market.

Goldstone said that levies and valuations needed to be rolled back in order to take out some of the extra money taxing districts have been collecting over the years due to inflation in the real estate market.

"It's an unfair gain," he said.

Reductions in tax levies would be modest for those taxing entities that lived within their means during previous years, he said.

Goldstone said the initiatives also would help the falling real estate market. The less taxes a potential homeowner has to pay the more expensive home they can afford.

The two initiatives are different than Proposition 101, which passed in November. It limited how much cities, towns, counties and community colleges could raise their tax rates but left out secondary property taxing districts such as fire districts, improvement districts and school districts. The Arizona Tax Revolt's initiatives would close that loophole.

Goldstone said in some cases Prop. 101 was a punishment to some government taxing agencies that had not pushed their tax rates the maximum allowable by law. Those entities lost their ability to increase their rates when they needed to.

He said he would be surprised if most government taxing agencies that fall under Prop. 101 are now taxing to the 2 percent maximum allowable because they are afraid they may lose more of their taxing ability in the future.

"I hope this will be something that will be supported across the state, not just in Mohave County," Goldstone said.

Both initiatives are loosely based on California's Proposition 13, which passed in 1978. At the time, California was faced with an increased demand for housing that was raising property taxes at a substantial rate.

The proposition held real estate property taxes at 1 percent of a property's assessed full cash or market value. According to Proposition 13, the assessed value of a property can only be increased by a maximum of two percent a year.

Unlike Prop. 13, Arizona Tax Revolt's initiatives would hold property values at 2003 plus any 2 percent tax rate increase put in place by taxing districts. New homeowners would pay almost the same tax rate that the previous owner of their home paid.