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State Prepared to Fight County Tax Lightning Correction

A law from 2001 put a 3% cap on the amount our property taxes could increase year over year. However, the law allowed the property tax to be reassessed upon sale of the property. The result has been an unconstitutional tax lightening effect. In other words, two neighbors in the same size house could find themselves paying hugely different annual tax bills.

After two judges have found this unequal taxation to be unconstitutional, Bernalillo County Assessor Karen Montoya has opted to do the right thing and put everything back in balance by 2010. But, it appears she is going to get a fight from State Secretary of Taxation Rick Homans:

Rick Homans, secretary of the state Taxation and Revenue Department, said Montoya’s decision could have serious consequences.

“A massive rollback in property taxes, as suggested by the county assessor, raises several complex legal questions and has potentially serious fiscal implications that need to be studied more closely in the weeks ahead,” he said.

Leave it to a state bureaucrat from the Richardson administration to twist the facts into a new reality. The truth of the matter is that it was the law that was passed in 2001 that raised the complex legal issues. Complex legal issues that impact tens of thousands of voters in Bernalillo County alone. Complex legal issues that have been determined by the courts to be unconstitutional, not once but twice.

Now, it is refreshing to see an elected official like Bernalillo County Assessor Karen Montoya decide to take a corrective course of action on behalf of taxpayers. Compare that action to the current administration’s fallback position to delay justice for those unfairly penalized. The Richardson administration would rather push off taking any action, and instead create a new industry and over burden the court system by forcing tens of thousands of taxpayers unjustly impacted by tax lightning to sue for equitable treatment under the law.

Considering that many of those homeowners are probably struggling to keep a roof over their families heads in these times of increasing unemployment and home foreclosures, it is clear that this administration puts protecting their revenue streams ahead of the needs of working New Mexican families.