The Charlotte Sun’s house pundit this morning advocates that storm shutters should be exempt from property taxes. About halfway down in the essay, he/she informs readers: “Shutters, which can range from $5,000 to $25,000 or more depending on the size of a home, could wind up costing twice that amount when taxes on the added value are factored over time.”
Sounds scary – add shutters, pay twice as much! Here’s the reality.
Let’s assume a 10-mill tax rate (the highest allowed, although I can’t find a county that actually uses that rate). More importantly, 10 is an easy number for English majors and sleepy copy editors to deal with. And, just to review: A mill is one one-thousandth of a dollar, and a 10-mill rate means $10 in tax for each $1,000 in value.
In my head, no pencil and paper: If I add $5,000 shutters to my house and the property appraiser appraises the whole sticker price, I’ll pay $50 a year in taxes on the new shutters. At $50 a year, it would take a hundred years for $5,000 shutters to “wind up costing twice that amount when taxes on the added value are factored over time.”
I don’t do a lot of math, but I like that it works pretty much the same all the time, even if the numbers change. In my head, again: If those shutters are the expensive kind, the $25,000 shutters, my 10-mill tax bill is $250 a year. It would still take a hundred years to “wind up costing twice that amount when taxes on the added value are factored over time.”
Two factors I didn’t consider here make Sun Pundit’s scare tactic even sillier: Most Florida counties’ tax rates are much less than 10 mills, and appraisers don’t add the retail sticker price of add-ons to a home’s appraisal. Either way, by the time shutters “wind up costing twice” what I paid, the grandchildren will be dead.
To be fair, I must account for local school-district taxes, which also depend on property appraisals. So, double the taxes (which really doesn’t happen), and it still takes 50 years to “wind up costing twice that amount when taxes on the added value are factored over time.”
I don’t care one way or another about this issue. I do care that when he/she writes about it, Sun Pundit uses FCAT -level math (that would be the 10th grade) instead of scare tactics to make the point.