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.

When are County Government Expenditures Justified?

by Robert John Stevens, December 12, 2017

I embrace Ezra Taft Benson’s rule of thumb for government spending—that if I ask my neighbors to pay for something and they deny my request then I am not justified in using government to force them to pay via taxation, forfeiture, penalty and/or by gunpoint. So when I talk about government theft, that’s what I am talking about.

I always thought county property taxes were used to build and maintain roads, bridges, water treatment systems, pay the sheriffs and to meet the necessary expenses of limited government.

The government of Utah County, Utah spends $78 million annually.

Utah County has approximately 600,000 residents.

This morning at the Utah County Commissioners’ Meeting, we watched them discuss five alternative plans for compensating county employees. A 5% across-the-board increase was proposed for non-elected officials. I had to leave early so I don’t know how it turned out but I spoke out again.

Today we learned they spend $55.5 million on county employee salaries and benefits or $91.66 per citizen. If only 20% of county citizens actually own land then on average they each pay $458.33.

Ask landowners if they want to pay $458.33 annually for county salaries and the majority will probably say no. Ask if they are willing to increase salaries and benefits by 5% annually and more will deny your request, so if the citizens aren’t willing to voluntarily pay and they don’t get to vote on such increases, then by Ezra Taft Benson’s rule of thumb isn’t that theft?

I understand the proper role of government is to provide limited services via the consent of the governed according to founding principles and to be wise stewards of those funds.

Since government by nature is inefficient, has no product or service to sell and isn’t governed by free market principles, then should county budgets be based upon foundational principles, the consent of the governed, limited government and reduced costs even if that requires layoffs?

Who benefits when governments diverge from foundational principles? Not the people.

Government-Managed Healthcare is Theft

by Robert John Stevens, March 23, 2017

Taxation is theft. Government-managed healthcare via forced redistribution of wealth punishable by prison time or forfeiture is not American.

The rule of thumb is if your neighbor asks you to pay his or her healthcare insurance and you refuse, should you then be allowed to use the force of government to make them pay?

In other words, if your neighbor doesn’t voluntarily give freely to your cause, is it thievery to have the government force them in your behalf?

Presidents Trump and Obama are both wrong–the federal government has no business managing healthcare or offering any product or service that the free market can provide or that can be provided by a lower level of government.

Government is the most inefficient provider of any product. They offer the worst service. Unlike business, they are not accountable for poor or faulty service. Anyone who has tried to get something accomplished thru government knows that.

If President Trump will live up to his campaign promises he will repeal Obamacare and replace it with nothing. Trump should introduce and campaign for a bill that says only, “The Federal government will no longer manage healthcare.”

Healthcare management is not a proper role of government. Neither is stealing from one’s neighbor.

Tax Code is Killing the U.S. Economy

This article’s headline says politics are killing the U.S. economy but if you read further it says the problem is the tax code.

We know it is much more than that: Taxes, regulations, welfare, propaganda media, offshoring, distractions, human poisoning, the abandonment of the proper role of government and its foundational principles that created the freest and most prosperous nation in history, and more.

Politics is crippling the US economy, Harvard study says