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Sen. Steve Pierce on tax changes

Yavapai County Assessor Pamela Pearsall has been telling residents that the Legislature is raising property taxes on homeowners. Whether it is intentional or not, she is giving an incomplete picture, and it is misleading residents.

The Legislature lowered the Class 1 property assessments this session, as part of the Governor’s Arizona Competitiveness Package. If no adjustments had been made, property taxes would have been shifted to all other property classifications, and Ms. Pearsall would be correct. But we did make an adjustment. The Homeowner’s Rebate is being increased. Everyone already gets the HR or Homeowners Rebate and you probably don’t even know it. By filing the new affidavit, everyone will be aware that they are receiving the increased rebate. Additionally, the Homeowner’s Rebate Affidavit will expose those who are claiming the rebate illegally. Rental properties have never been eligible for the rebate, but it has been happening, at a cost to you the taxpayer. HR is being used by bank owned properties, REOs, second homes, vacation homes, to which it was never intended to be. The Homeowner’s Rebate was intended to be for taxpayers on their primary residence ONLY.

Our Arizona businesses face some of the highest taxes in the country, higher than in California. Business property is currently taxed at twice the amount of residential property. In order to make Arizona competitive and attract out-of-state businesses to relocate, the Commercial Property Assessment Ratio will be reduced from 20% to 18%. This will help our economy and bring much needed jobs and revenue to the State. The homeowners rebate has been in existence for 30 years. During this time the HR percentages have changed numerous times, in 2013 the homeowner’s rebate percentage will be increased. This HR increase is designed to keep homeowner’s taxes from increasing while helping draw new business to Arizona. It is not a new tax. We only want you to know that it is there, it was increased for you, and it is illuminating those that are abusing it and costing you, the taxpayer money from the general fund.

I understand and appreciate there are going to be disagreements on the state’s taxing policies. I also believe you should hear the whole story, not just a partial one that suits the County Assessor.

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