Wednesday, September 19, 2007

your tax dollars and mine

As owners of two pieces of property in the great state of Maine we pay a staggering amount in taxes. The breakdown of where the money is distributed show that about 75% of our yearly bill in each town goes directly for public education.

This editorial in a Illinois paper proposes that residents who have no children in the school system receive a reduction because they don't use the services provided. Since vouchers and tax credits for homeschooling are likely never going to become law, the idea of putting the cost of a "free public education" on the plates of those who use it seems pretty fair. Perhaps if more homeowners were given the financial incentive to opt out, more families would switch to private school or homeschool, forcing a radical change in the educational system in America.

What do you think??

Why should a household without kids in school pay the same as the next door neighbor with several kids in school? Surely the "no kids" household should pay something, but not the same amount.
Or why should the 80-year-old widow whose home has appreciated to, let's say $400,000, pay more to the schools than the $150,000 home owner with several kids using the public school system in the same district?

Here's a proposal: Tie the school tax amount directly to the parcel number at a specified dollar amount, not the value of the property. Now, multiply that dollar amount by the number of children residing at that parcel number.
Have more kids; pay more for the use of the public school system. Everyone has a "multiplier" of at least 1. No kids in school, multiply by one. One kid in school, multiply by one. Two kids in school, multiply by two, etc. As the number of kids from a particular parcel number decreases, so does the multiplier, down to 1.
After 12 years without a kid in a public school, the multiplier drops to 0.5, 0.25, or perhaps zero. If zero, that property owner would no longer be able to vote on future school referendums.
This would apply to those who home school or send their kids to a private school.


scmom said...

This issue has been a beef of mine since I put my first child in Catholic school 13 years ago. I fear it will never change. One reason is that people who are now empty nesters enrolled their kids in school years ago and empty nesters paid for them. So, how do they change the system? It's like SS -- if you take the new generation out, who will pay for the older generation?

Frankly, I think that beaurocrats are afraid to revise the current system, because they don't want to hear from tax papyers. Currently those who have children educated elsewhere (in private school or at home) are the minority. If they try to change the system, they will have to listen to the majority.

Anonymous said...

I don't believe property taxes should be used to pay for public education at all. I live in central Illinois. Most of the people who have children that attend schools in District 186 (the Springfield area) are low income. A majority of them do not own property and pay no property taxes, yet their children enjoy the benefits of a public education. In the meantime, those of us who aare homeowners and homeschooling or paying to send our children to private schools, continue to fund the education of others. I believe a sales tax would be a better way to fund it. At least these folks would be contributing as well.


Milehimama said...

No. I think everyone should have to pay for it. That's how socialism works...oh...wait...

I think that homeschoolers should at least get the same $250 tax credit public school teachers get to 'buy supplies' for their classroom.

And I think that each child should get their allotment of education dollars, instead of it going, by default, to the nearest school.

But silly me, thinking choice will improve the educational system!

Karen said...

I do not know about other states, but in Maine, homeschoolers have (or are SUPPOSED to have) full access to what the publics schools offer. this includes classes, extracurricular activities, their libraries, and even their curriculum! Being on a very large Maine Homeschooling list, I do hear about some schools who make it very hard for homeschooled kids to take advantage of these things that they are entitled to because their parents pay property taxes in the state of Maine, but the schools in our district (MSAD48) are VERY welcoming to homeschoolers. My children begin band at the local elementary school in grade 4 and so far, have continued up thru age 7. I have a daughter who also does chorus with the middle school. And I have another daughter who made the middle school's soccer team. Both of the middle school girls also have library cards for the school library. Obviously, many people homeschool so that they do not HAVE to associate with the public school system. For us, I want my children to be able to do these activities if THEY so choose since there are no active homeschool groups who offer anything remotely comparable, and our church is 100 miles away and doesn't offer any sort of parish activities anyway (we're Latin Mass goers, as you know). And here we are stuck.. 'til our house sells anyway. :)

If you do not already belong, I do highly recommend the Maine Homeschooling list at
It is a great way to keep up to date on events regarding homeschooling in Maine.

Karen said...

"My children begin band at the local elementary school in grade 4 and so far, have continued up thru age 7." err, that should have said continued up thru GRADE 7, lol.

jugglingpaynes said...

My beef has always been the "democratic" process of voting on the school budget. Where I am in NY, the school budget gets a separate voting day and is held ON SCHOOL GROUNDS. Now I ask you, who is this convenient for?
Having worked in NYC schools as a paraprofessional, I could easily find numerous instances of waste. If my money were simply going to pay teacher salaries, my taxes would be a fraction of what they are. Even with NY's STAR program, we still struggle as homeschoolers, managing on one income with no access to public school activities or curriculum (not that I would use it, I would just like it to be accessible.)
Excellent post!

Karen said...

Guess what I got in the mail today? 1) my property tax bill (lower than last yr, btw, at $678!) and 2) a letter from the Superintendent of Schools! LOL The letter basically thanked me for filing my LOI (Letter of Intent) in a timely manner.. ie, before Sept 1st., and reminding me of all the things we can have access to! I immediately thought of this blog post when I saw the two in the mail together! LOL

B&B said...

Great post! My husband was so thrilled when they said they were enacting the 'voucher system' then they made it only for failing schools/students.

Things became so bad in our neck of the woods that I gave up my 'transportation check' of a few hundred dollars a month in preferance of homeschooling. (They won't run school busses out to our neighborhood so by law they had to pay me to transport my kids to the nearest bus stop. ~ Not worth it!)

Nice to meet you!

Barb the Evil Genius said...

Kim H, whoever owns the apartment complex/rental house still has to pay property taxes, and you can bet that amount comes out of rent charged. So even if you don't own property, you still end up paying property taxes.