With all due respect to Peter Zuyus, I find his letter to the editor (Jan. 16) about a proposal to limit the senior property tax exemption to be, at the very least, mean-spirited.
Speaking as an official “senior” who enjoys the property tax exemption, I nevertheless recognize that there is a legitimate argument about how large a tax break we seniors deserve just by virtue of aging. Labeling anyone — including Mayor Navarre and certain council members — as guilty of “disdain,” “arrogance,” “jealousy” and “disregard” just because they’re raising the issue, certainly doesn’t do much for civil discourse.
No matter how you slice it, my tax break also is a tax transfer. Someone is going to pick up the tab for schools, fire, garbage, hospitals, road service, libraries, etc., etc. Some of this cost is covered by sales tax, which is a regressive tax but at least spreads the pain, but most is covered by property taxes.
In the old days (pre-Zobel, which shows how long I’ve lived in Alaska), not only the Permanent Fund but also tax exemptions could be tied to length of residency. And if that were the case, I might feel differently. “We worked to build this state and community — we deserve a break!”
But length of residency is no longer a requirement. Instead, any California (or wherever) retiree who loves fishing, can afford a half-million dollar house on the bluff and knows a sweet deal when he sees it, can move up here and live tax-free.
Does that make sense? Is that fair?
I am wholly in Mayor Navarre’s and Milli Martin’s (another senior; is she guilty of “disdain,” “arrogance,” “jealousy” and “disregard”?) camp on this one. We need a reasonable ($300,000 seems fair to me) limit on property tax exemptions, with exceptions for seniors who are land rich and cash poor, and who, often, are the real pioneers deserving of a break.
I don’t buy the argument that just because I’ve lived in Alaska for 40 years and have lived to be 65 that I no longer have an obligation to help share the burden for the services that I use and value.