Taxation in American States and Cities

By Richard T. Ely | Go to book overview

CHAPTER III.
EXEMPTION OF REAL ESTATE FROM STATE TAXATION.

ADMINISTRATIVE REASONS FOR THIS EXEMPTION.

THE second feature of my scheme of taxation is the exemption of real estate from all state taxes, and for this exemption there are several cogent reasons, all based on actual experience of states and counties situated in this respect much as Maryland is.

We have in the first place to observe the difficulties which everywhere attend the assessment of real estate for state purposes. It cannot be assessed by a single board of assessors, for the area is too vast. Its assessment must be committed to local authorities, and sooner or later a rivalry breaks out between them in the undervaluation of real property, each locality striving to reduce its share of state taxes at the expense of other parts of the state. This struggle results in inequality and injustice, for real estate will be assessed twice, three times, or even four times as high in one part of the state as in another. Reference has been made to this matter in Ohio, and I know of no state in the Union where such inequalities do not exist. If the opinion of the other members of the Maryland Tax Commission -- and they are better qualified to form one than I -- is entirely correct, that these inequalities as between the various counties of Maryland are not wilful, the fruit of design and cupidity, the fact of the inequalities is not thereby altered; and there is no reason to suppose that we in Maryland can hope to escape perma-

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