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How to protest property taxes?
June 23, 2013 | vanity

Posted on 06/23/2013 6:51:35 AM PDT by bgill

Can anyone explain what sort of questions are asked at property tax protests? I understand I need proof why I'm being charged too much but what all can I use? I'm guessing research between the county appraisal listings for similar square footage and such. My house isn't similar to others in the area so maybe take pictures of inside and out? Perhaps go on a real estate site to see other homes' improvements as opposed to mine?

I'm doing this on my own because the legal help fell through. Neighbors were supposed to get together with legal help on this but didn't but I simply MUST get some relief. I know they don't care about sob stories but I'm against a wall and this will be the end of the family being here for 50 years.


TOPICS: Chit/Chat
KEYWORDS: taxes; vanity
Any and all advice welcome. Thanks
1 posted on 06/23/2013 6:51:35 AM PDT by bgill
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To: bgill

Move to a place with lower taxes.


2 posted on 06/23/2013 6:54:01 AM PDT by Paladin2
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To: bgill

Pay for your own, independent appraisal. Call several Real Estate agents to get recommendations on expert appraisers.


3 posted on 06/23/2013 6:54:58 AM PDT by upchuck (To the faceless, jack-booted government bureaucrat who just scanned this post: SCREW YOU!)
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To: bgill
Be warned....property values are back on the rise out here in Cali. Don't know if the same is true for you but we were surprised at the reevaluated price of our property. It was so good, we sold in preparation of retiring outside of CA.

Might affect your case

4 posted on 06/23/2013 7:00:04 AM PDT by CAluvdubya (Molon Labe)
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To: bgill

Read your assessment carefully.

In my county, you need to have a certified private appraisal in order to contest the county appraisal.


5 posted on 06/23/2013 7:01:08 AM PDT by chrisser (Senseless legislation does nothing to solve senseless violence.)
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To: upchuck

The first place to start is to get a handle on what other like properties or square footage is appraised at in your area. If everyone is appraised at ridicules levels, it will show you that a comparison approach will not work.

After that, determine what value your property is supposed to be assessed to...fmv; replacement values; costs plus yearly inflation or whatever.

That is how I would do it were it me. Our tax basis here is original sales price plus an allowed 2.5% per year for inflation assuming nothing changed like adding a pool or more sq footage. It works fine for owner occupied dwellings. Non owner occupied not so good.


6 posted on 06/23/2013 7:03:26 AM PDT by Mouton (108th MI Group.....68-71)
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To: bgill

In Texas it’s pretty simple - basically just appraisal work:

1) You list nearby comparable properties that have sold recently.
2) You determine a price per square foot.
3) You then adjust for any outliers, which might increase or decrease your value (like a warped foundation, or marble tile everywhere).


7 posted on 06/23/2013 7:04:23 AM PDT by BobL (To us it's a game, to them it's personal - therefore they win.)
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To: bgill

organize a group of like minded homeowners who are unanimously against property taxes and start dominating local elections with your agenda. I have been wanting to do this ever since my school board got it in their head that they needed several new schools in my district which they have not yet gotten despite three consecutive attempts at the same levy. Punish any elected officials who bring up a tax levy.


8 posted on 06/23/2013 7:06:58 AM PDT by RC one
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To: bgill

We have a realty firm that sells homes exclusively in our community. Every year, they provide listings to homeowners of like properties in the area for valuation comparison purposes as a method to protest tax assessments. You may be able to find a realtor that will do likewise, or pay the fee (typically $300-$400) for a private appraiser to evaluate your property. I wouldn’t take images of your home to the tax appraiser. Don’t give them ammunition. Besides, it’s a safe bet that they already have overhead and street side images of your home already. Any perceived improvements from your images may work against you. Good luck.


9 posted on 06/23/2013 7:07:35 AM PDT by TADSLOS (The Event Horizon has come and gone. Buckle up and hang on.)
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To: bgill

You need to get comps from around your neighborhood. It’s public record what these homes sold for. It has to be within the last 6 months or 1 year. My taxes went up as well. You should have exemptions for homestead and senior citizens as well home improvement. Just don’t give up. Stay on them. You may find out that everyone in your neighborhood had the taxes go up. They rasied the rate in order to get more money out of me. My guess is that is what they did to you.


10 posted on 06/23/2013 7:07:46 AM PDT by Brasky
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To: bgill
Honestly...It's a big freakin game. No rhyme or reason.

With that said, you will need at least three com-parables in your area that are the identical “class” home as your home.

For example, on your taxing statement, you will see class 5 or 5+ or 6...that sort of thing.

Go out to HCAD or MCAD...whatever county you live and check all the lil details of your home. They will have pix of your home...even from the air (b@st@rd$).

Begin to put together a portfolio on your home. Anything not completed, not upgraded, damage and so forth...take lotsa pictures.

Drive by the homes you've chosen as com-parables. Take as many pix as you can w/o entering their property for risk of getting a bullet lodge in ya. Print out their info off of the HCAD/MCAD websites and place the pix you've taken with it. Place all your research in a binder or folder (I used a clear cover with a pic of my home), then make at least 3 copies of that same portfolio to hand out in case you have to go before the board.

Try to pick the most beautiful homes you can that are listed in your class. Then, try to document you home in a more negative light. Make sense?

Now you know why this whole process is a freakin circus?

You'll go down and sign in at the desk...make sure you arrive 15 to 30 minutes before your appt. But sign in. They'll pass ya over if ya don't and believe me, they don't give a rats patooka whether you make it or not.

They'll call your name, you will go back with one of their appraiser wannabe’s. You'll present your research and make your arguments as to why they shouldn't raise your rates to XXX amount. The rookie appraiser will either choose to bless you with something or he will blow you off.

At this time, you can either take what he/she gives ya or you can request to go before the board...this is a whole new ridiculous chapter in the process.

Now, if you go before the board, you'll have three or four people sitting in what looks like a board room (mine was elevated above the citizens) looking like they lord over you. To your side will be the chief appraiser...the prosecutor type fella.

The lords will have you raise you right hand and swear you in. (no joke). Then the chief appraiser will make a case to the lords why they should indeed raise your rates. He will use research and formulas YOU are not privy to. In fact, it will make no sense whatsoever.

You...the lil guy citizen will then be allowed a few minutes to present you research and make a case that is stronger than the fella sittin next to ya. They will either bless you with a knock off of the assessed value or they will foo foo you and send you away to bother them no longer.

I'm tellin ya, it's a damn joke...the whole process.

I love Texas for so many reasons...but this one, Texas has it all wrong.

Hope this helps. Ping me back if something is unclear.

11 posted on 06/23/2013 7:12:30 AM PDT by servantboy777
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To: chrisser

Here, you can do it yourself.


12 posted on 06/23/2013 7:12:34 AM PDT by bgill (This reply was mined before it was posted.)
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To: bgill
Search your town or county websites to see if they list tax information by address.
If so, make a list of at least six other homes that are similar to yours to compare with.
If you can't find tax info via the gubmint, try Zillow.com. Again, you'll need the addresses of the homes similar to yours for comparison purposes.
And of course - be aware that the last thing the your local gubmint wants to do is lose money. Don't expect them to very cooperative. Be patient, have your facts ready ready and give 'em hell.
13 posted on 06/23/2013 7:13:06 AM PDT by oh8eleven (RVN '67-'68)
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To: Mouton

FMV here is ridiculous. Property taxes have gone up the legally allowed 10% (cough, plus a wee bit extra in fuzzy math which adds up over time) every year. In the past, they’ve said I couldn’t protest because I was still below FMV. Texas never had the real estate bust the rest of the country did the last few years. There’s been new construction constantly here and people are still building mcmansions.


14 posted on 06/23/2013 7:17:35 AM PDT by bgill (This reply was mined before it was posted.)
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To: servantboy777
Substitute your for you in the paragraphs...not sure why it came out that way. Maybe I'm retarded.

Have a blessed day...heck, I sound a lil negative...maybe it's I that needs a lil blessin. lol

15 posted on 06/23/2013 7:18:27 AM PDT by servantboy777
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To: BobL
Is the square foot the actual “living” area such as the sq foot of each room or the foundation sq footage? I'm being picky here since my interior walls are thick so take up more feet than the average sheet rock walls.

I'm definitely taking off for ramshackle and non-maintained sheds. When the taxes rose over the years from 2 weeks income to 3 months, there's no way way to do basic maintenance anymore. No tile here, just linoleum and laminate so I'll be taking pictures of that.

16 posted on 06/23/2013 7:27:25 AM PDT by bgill (This reply was mined before it was posted.)
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To: bgill
You have good advice in the above comments. Start with the local assessor to inquire how they arrived at your assessment. Find out the appeal process. Usually there is a local board which will hear your issues and they “may” give you some relief but dont expect much. Finally you can always seek relief in Court by means of a Tax Certioria. You can do it without a lawyer, if you are knowedgable but it may be worth it to have one so you dont lose on procedures.

All that said ask local RE brokers how much your property is worth and how do your taxes compare to what others are paying. Remember even though RE is off its peaks of 5 yrs ago it has appreciated in the last 25 yrs. and remember your ability to pay the local RE taxes is not the criteria, only the value of the RE. Also separate the house from the land. in my case land was 90% of the assessment, for 20 years I argued that they were over assessing the value of the land. they finally put our neighborhood in its own district and my assessment fell 30%. remember you can always sell it before somebody like me buys your RE lien which the municipality sells on the open market. Good luck!

17 posted on 06/23/2013 7:27:39 AM PDT by tomd2
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To: TADSLOS

Can’t afford any fees.


18 posted on 06/23/2013 7:28:32 AM PDT by bgill (This reply was mined before it was posted.)
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To: bgill

Go to assessor and get a copy of the entire folder on your property.

Assessments are based on recent “legit” sales.
Find out the comparable houses the assessor used to base your home’s value. Usually your home would be compared with four other houses. Find out how your house differs from them.

Remeasure the exterior of your house. Porch measurement is separate.(My measurements were wrong by 500 sq ft!!! no previous owner caught this)

There’s no need to take photos of the interior. Why should they have photos of your personal possessions on file? All they need to know is how many baths, half baths, kitchens and bedrooms. They don’t need to know if you have marble counter tops or a gold plated tub.

I’ve never done an appraisal and always fought the assessment myself. Be prepared for their stock answers such as “Where can you buy a house such as yours for that price?” “It’s a porch but you can make it into an enclosed porch so we’re assessing your porch as an enclosed porch and that qualifies as a room”

Do show up at the grievance even if you don’t think you have a chance of a result in your favor. If many show up, chances are they may change the assessments across the board. That’s what happened in my town.


19 posted on 06/23/2013 7:28:32 AM PDT by 1_Rain_Drop
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To: servantboy777

Yeah, it’s all a scam and we’re the scam-ees. So, I have to swear to be honest but I can’t make them swear to be honest with me, right?

Good to know about the class ratings. I’d forgotten about that.


20 posted on 06/23/2013 7:33:28 AM PDT by bgill (This reply was mined before it was posted.)
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To: tomd2

I’m on a small lot but the land here is PRIME $$$ so that’s what’s killing me. The land is valued at twice what the house is so I’m thinking I’m not going to get very far with the assessor.


21 posted on 06/23/2013 7:38:27 AM PDT by bgill (This reply was mined before it was posted.)
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To: 1_Rain_Drop

A friend found out they were assessing her on upscale counter tops. She asked but they never told her how they found out. She’d built the house herself so she knew they hadn’t been inside unless they were snooping around during construction.


22 posted on 06/23/2013 7:42:03 AM PDT by bgill (This reply was mined before it was posted.)
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To: bgill
"Is the square foot the actual “living” area such as the sq foot of each room or the foundation sq footage? I'm being picky here since my interior walls are thick so take up more feet than the average sheet rock walls.

My walls are 8 inches thick which makes the rooms small. Assessor is only interested in exterior size of house.

An assessment should not be confused with a RE listing. My house is not liveable presently. Plumbing and electricity has been removed and still needs to be replaced. The assessor said that they don't care about that. They just need to know how many rooms are in a 30x40 foot house. A RE agent would need to know the size of rooms, not an assessor. You may have those measurements on hand but don't depend on them helping you lower the assessment.

Another thing when doing the comparables, look at siding and roof materials. Brick is valued differently from wood siding.

Oh, and try to find comparables for your property that are different from the ones they used. If your house is unique, find another house that's unique in its own category.

23 posted on 06/23/2013 7:47:25 AM PDT by 1_Rain_Drop
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To: bgill
"A friend found out they were assessing her on upscale counter tops."

Are you serious?!!! I'm shocked. Did your friend see "counter tops" noted on that piece of paper,or was it verbal? If it was verbal then it could be one of their intimidation tactics.

Ok, find out if the assessor has a handbook on what they assess. FOIL if need be.

24 posted on 06/23/2013 7:56:33 AM PDT by 1_Rain_Drop
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To: bgill
I serve on my counties BOPTA board. Board of Property Tax appeals and am a Realtor. You need to find comparisons of recent "sold" properties. Always keeping in mind that it is a buyer and what they pay that sets the properties value.

You need to have many "comps" to prove your value. Use other properties that are close in square footage, the assessors are big on per square foot value's, lot size and value that at per square foot also. Year built as compared to others and remodels if any compared to others.

We have a motto in our county, do not let the assessor come into your home, when they make their visit. If you have done any remodeling, like upgrading the vanity in a bathroom or upgrading kitchen counters with granite, if they see those they will put a higher value on your home.

One last thing, if you have ever put an over the top price on your home for sale and it didn't sell, they will use that against you and say you listed your property for such and such, that price is obviously what you think the value of your home is, I saw this repeatedly in this years meetings.

25 posted on 06/23/2013 8:14:30 AM PDT by thirst4truth (www.Believer.com)
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To: bgill

If you’ve been living in that house for fifty years, apply for a homestead exemption, which many areas offer to old-timers. Another route is to get a historic designation for your house if it’s substantially older than the other houses in the area. Sometimes taxing authorities will put a hold on a tax increase if you can show that you’re applying for state or national historic status. In some parts of the US that have a lot of new construction, even a house that’s 75 years old seems old. You might not get the application approved but it’s a delaying tactic.

How much are they raising your taxes?


26 posted on 06/23/2013 8:24:11 AM PDT by ottbmare (The OTTB Mare--now a Marine Mom)
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To: bgill

Did not realize that about Texas....was not that bad when I lived there. We have been in our place almost 20 years and the original basis was fixed at the cost value. Assessments can go up 2.5% a year, which they did right through the bust so for us they have continued going up as our home is not near FMV now in its appraised value. Due to declining assessed values on properties bought near the top, total assessed property values have been dropping so now the county is considering a milage increase of about 22% which will have the double whammy for us adding in another 2.5%. I know the argument is well, your home is worth more now but since we are not selling and even if we did we would only be trading value for value it just seems insane given “services” have been cut quite a bit too over the past few years. Biggest problem is most of the influx is Yankees who move south for lower taxes but want the same level of handholding they get “back home” which is where they would either stay or move to IMO.

Good luck with your argument.


27 posted on 06/23/2013 8:34:19 AM PDT by Mouton (108th MI Group.....68-71)
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To: bgill

Tell them you tried to give your house away but had no takers... because nobody could afford the property taxes.


28 posted on 06/23/2013 8:37:00 AM PDT by lonestar (It takes a village of idiots to elect a village idiot.)
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To: bgill

“Is the square foot the actual “living” area such as the sq foot of each room or the foundation sq footage? I’m being picky here since my interior walls are thick so take up more feet than the average sheet rock walls.”

Here in Texas they measure outside dimensions, so you’re out of luck. Parts of my house I had changed from stucco to brick, so I know what you mean, as brick walls are close to a foot thick, especially over 2x6 studs.

The real loophole here is garage space. You are taxed at about 1/3 of the rate of finished area with a garage. So if you can figure out a way to make a garage do more things than storage, you can do really well that way.


29 posted on 06/23/2013 9:17:46 AM PDT by BobL (To us it's a game, to them it's personal - therefore they win.)
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To: 1_Rain_Drop

Thanks for the reply on the thick walls.


30 posted on 06/23/2013 9:23:29 AM PDT by bgill (This reply was mined before it was posted.)
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To: 1_Rain_Drop

Yes, for real. I’ve been on the phone with her for the past hour going over assessments. I called her to find out exactly where she found out about the counter tops and it was on the CAD’s web site. Of course, they’ve since changed their site because there was waaaay too much private info that was being put out on a public site. Heck, at one time they had sketches of interiors.


31 posted on 06/23/2013 9:27:43 AM PDT by bgill (This reply was mined before it was posted.)
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To: thirst4truth

Real estate values here are at least $100k over the assessed values on your average 3 bedroom home.

I’ve been calculating sq ft values and they are all over the board. I’m seeing them from $80 to $140 for the same siding construction and built about the same time.


32 posted on 06/23/2013 9:40:24 AM PDT by bgill (This reply was mined before it was posted.)
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To: ottbmare

They’ve been raising our taxes the “legal” 10% and a wee bit more with their fuzzy math. Those little extra fractions of a percent are compounded so add up over time.

Mr. b says we should turn the house into a church. I’m thinking a better bet would be to claim it’s a mosque and be safe from the NSA, too.


33 posted on 06/23/2013 9:44:18 AM PDT by bgill (This reply was mined before it was posted.)
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To: Mouton; bgill

I appreciate your reply but it’s bgill that’s having the problem, not me.


34 posted on 06/23/2013 9:52:56 AM PDT by upchuck (To the faceless, jack-booted government bureaucrat who just scanned this post: SCREW YOU!)
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To: bgill

What state?


35 posted on 06/23/2013 10:09:24 AM PDT by Repulican Donkey
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To: bgill

Good luck


36 posted on 06/23/2013 10:33:01 AM PDT by servantboy777
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To: Paladin2

Hard to beat Texas for lower cost of living and good paying jobs.


37 posted on 06/23/2013 10:34:45 AM PDT by servantboy777
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To: servantboy777

At one time but times have changed since all the libs have been moving in and bringing their crazy ideas including their inflated ideas on home prices.


38 posted on 06/23/2013 11:26:47 AM PDT by bgill (This reply was mined before it was posted.)
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To: bgill

There called Yankees man....yankees lol


39 posted on 06/23/2013 12:09:50 PM PDT by servantboy777
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To: servantboy777

Oh, I’ve lapsed...it’s damn yankees. lol

Just kiddin y’all, just wafflin ya.


40 posted on 06/23/2013 12:26:42 PM PDT by servantboy777
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To: BobL; bgill
In Texas it’s pretty simple - basically just appraisal work:

1) You list nearby comparable properties that have sold recently.
2) You determine a price per square foot.
3) You then adjust for any outliers, which might increase or decrease your value (like a warped foundation, or marble tile everywhere).

I also live in Texas. A few years ago, we decided to protest our tax appraisal. We contacted a couple of realtors for sales of comparable properties in the neighborhood. I did calculations of price per square foot. I thought I was well prepared for the meeting. But when I started pulling out the price per square foot data, the guy said to forget that. He said they don't use that.

He looked at the raw data from the realtors and compared it with his own list of sales in our neighborhood during the last year. He found a house on our list that wasn't on his list. He left and did some checking, and came back and agreed to a small downward adjustment in our appraised value.

I think he appreciated our calm and cooperative attitude. The guy ahead of us was argumentative and abusive. I imagine a lot of people are in a bad mood when they go in there.

41 posted on 06/23/2013 12:44:56 PM PDT by Rocky (Obama is pure evil.)
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To: bgill

You might also want to look at the lien date. It’s not what you property is worth now, but on the lien date. In California, the lien date is January 1st.

Prop 13 is the only sane thing we have in California. Prop 13 Caps assessment increases to 2% per year.


42 posted on 06/23/2013 1:12:46 PM PDT by occamrzr06
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To: servantboy777

You’re so bad!


43 posted on 06/23/2013 4:42:30 PM PDT by bgill (This reply was mined before it was posted.)
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To: All

Thanks for the help. I’ve been working on calculating what the neighborhood is being taxed on per sq ft. It’s all over the place but will try to present something and not hold my breath.


44 posted on 06/23/2013 4:44:36 PM PDT by bgill (This reply was mined before it was posted.)
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To: bgill

Take care and have a great week.


45 posted on 06/23/2013 5:24:13 PM PDT by servantboy777
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To: bgill

yup that sounds about right. Land values double. in truth the value of the unit of measure, the dollar, has declined that much. but that is a whole other discussion. GL


46 posted on 06/24/2013 6:05:47 AM PDT by tomd2
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To: tomd2
in truth the value of the unit of measure, the dollar, has declined that much

Has your income increased 10+% each year as the taxes have? Mine sure hasn't.

47 posted on 06/24/2013 11:50:55 AM PDT by bgill (This reply was mined before it was posted.)
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To: bgill

I bet property taxes increases are not counted in the inflation figures.


48 posted on 06/24/2013 12:28:26 PM PDT by CodeToad (Liberals are bloodsucking ticks. We need to light the matchstick to burn them off. -786 +969)
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