Letter to the Editor: Tennessee’s Dirty Little Secret is the State Property Tax

The Murfreesboro Voice – Murfreesboro, TN –

To the Editor:

Since 1949 the State of Tennessee relied on the sales tax as her primary source of funding. Prior to 1949 the State also had a property tax. The rate was five cents per one hundred dollars in assessed value. (This is equal to fifty three cents in todays dollars.) Currently in Tennessee property taxes are only assessed and collected at the local level. The collection of the state property tax went away but not the empowering legislation that makes it so potentially dangerous. With the simple stroke of a legislative pen it could once again be set into motion. This is the “dirty little secret ” the Democrats in charge of the State Legislature left in place when the State sales tax was enacted. The State Property tax is the hidden tax, still in place and empowered. Why are we not taxed currently? That’s only because the tax rate is set to zero currently.

Current State law says this:

TCA 67-5-101 states “All property, real and personal, shall be assessed for taxation for state, county and municipal purposes, except such as is declared exempt in part 2 of this chapter, or unless otherwise provided.”

Not only is your physical real estate subject to local and state taxation; your personal property is subject to taxation also. All it takes is a simple stroke of the pen and you personal bank accounts, cars, furniture and boats will be assessed as well.

Should the State decide to once again tax property as they did prior to 1949 it will strain local funding currently used to provide needed resources for schools, public safety, highways and general county services. It may also have an adverse effect on the Better Education Funding initiative as well.

The time to act on this is now. Please let your local representatives know you want this removed from our constitution. The temptation is too great. a one cent state property tax rate would generate $1.6 billion dollars! I say that is too great a temptation. You wouldn’t leave a recovering addict alone in a room with a bottle of whisky. You can’t trust state bureaucrats with a state property tax either.

Rob Mitchell
Rutherford County Property Assessor