I got my property tax assessment, and it's gone way up—even though I've made no improvements to the property! It's nice that my house is worth more, but I feel gouged. Can these assessments be appealed?


Seriously, McNeuberger, you can Google "Multnomah County Property Tax Appeal" with one hand; you don't even need to put down the bong.

Sure, I could spend this column desultorily paraphrasing the results of said Google search by replacing every instance of the phrase "petition filing" with the words "donkey boners" (God knows I've done it before).

Today, though, I happen to be fresh out of psychedelic toad venom, which means I have the clarity of mind to really attack your question without fear of interference from marauding giant bats!

I sympathize with the fact that the recovery of the housing market is eating into your beer-and-stripper money. But you touch on a damning problem with property taxation: Improvements to one's property are punished with higher taxes, while neglect is rewarded with a lower bill. Luckily, there's a way around this. It's called Land Value Taxation (LVT).

Like single-payer health care, LVT is a wonky good-governance idea that experts love and traditionalists fear. Thus, I'm surprised it hasn't gotten more traction in Portland.

The idea is that you tax the value of the land itself, independent of improvements. Wanna spend your own money developing your property? Your tax bill won't change. Wanna sit on a vacant lot in a desirable area while you wait for the price to rise so you can make a killing? Fine, but you'll pay for the privilege.

LVT seems to have something for everyone, with the notable exception of real-estate speculators. Unfortunately, those speculators are often exactly the sort to be thick as thieves with mayor types. I just thank God that sort of chumminess could never happen here.

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