Should Governments Seize Property and Ruin The Lives of Citizens Who Fail to Pay Their Property Taxes?

by Robert John Stevens, December 22, 2017

If you fail to pay your property taxes, should the government seize your property?

I’ve sat in several Utah County Commissioners’ Meetings where citizen appeals are reviewed. Each time county employees testify to the county commissioners that they sent property tax notices and still the taxes weren’t paid. Each time the commissioners unanimously deny the appeal and ruin lives.

This scene always reminds me of French revolution movie scenes where tyrants send innocent citizens to the guillotine.

Google, “What percentage of mail gets lost by USPS yearly?” How many times have you received someone else’s postal mail? Did you always promptly forward it? What if you are experiencing financial distress and cannot pay your property taxes?

There are approximately 600,000 citizens in Utah County. Guestimating 20% own property, that’s 120,000 property tax notices per year. If 1% of those are lost or stolen, then 12,000 landowners face property seizure.

Shockingly, the citizens who filed for appeals were not at the meetings. Why not? Probably because they felt they submitted valid reasons and expected mercy, forgiveness and civility.

Commissioner Bill Lee told me on Wednesday that it is the duty of every citizen to pay his or her property taxes and the tax notices are just courtesies. I have a great deal of respect for Bill Lee. He’s a fine person who has acquired a great deal of wisdom. At first, Bill’s argument sounded reasonable to me and then I remembered that most citizens in Utah County are Mormon, Catholic or Protestant and expect the county commissioners to Follow the Golden Rule as commanded by Jesus Christ and reiterated by modern apostles.

“Followers of Christ should be examples of civility…We should be wise in explaining and pursuing our positions and in exercising our influence…We encourage all of us to practice the Savior’s Golden Rule: ‘Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them’ (Matthew 7:12).”

Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles—Follow the Golden Rule.

If I were a commissioner I would never vote to seize the property of citizens who failed to pay their taxes. To exercise equal justice, I would approve appeals contingent upon reasonable accrued interest, not to exceed what local banks impose. There is no reason found in Christianity for governments to seize property and ruin the lives of citizens who are late paying their property taxes.

Early Christians Bound Themselves by a Solemn Oath

by Robert John Stevens, November 27, 2016

Anyone who has read the Book of Mormon learned that secret combinations bound themselves by a solemn oath to deceive, overthrow governments, murder and plunder.

Evil seems to always be a counterfeit version of a good counterpart. Where solemn oaths used by good people, for good? Read this quote by Pliny the Younger who in A.D. 112 wote this about Christians:

They were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang in alternate verses a hymn to Christ, as to a god, and bound themselves by a solemn oath, not to any wicked deeds, but never to commit any fraud, theft or adultery, never to falsify their word, nor deny a trust when they should be called upon to deliver it up; after which it was their custom to separate, and then reassemble to partake of food–but food of an ordinary and innocent kind. — quoted in Ancient Evidence for Jesus from Non-Christian Sources

Solemn oaths are found today in many religious organizations and rituals.

The Enlightened View of Ownership

by Robert John Stevens, April 17, 2016

The Christian world knows well that John 1:3 states, “All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.” Jesus, the God of this world, made all things, and assisted beings under his direction at the dawn of creation and probably ever since.

Mormonism adds an enlightened view of that concept, that Jesus owns everything. Land records may state I own real estate but I really don’t own anything—God owns everything. My stewardship of wealth is temporary and used to bless myself, my family and the entire human race whenever possible.

Socialism and communism are the enemy to God and claims the state, not God and not the people, owns everything. The difference is significant.