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The Mature Taxpayer

July 24, 2013

We are indebted this week to the thorough explanation of delinquent taxes provided by our Chancery Clerk John Davies. (See page one story on the ins and outs of mature taxes.)

Davies is quite the expert on land issues. He says when he first took office ten year ago he had approximately 60 tracts in the mature tax pool. This year, he has around 330.

That is 330 pieces of property most with multiple owners who will lose their land. That number paints an economic picture of despair in our county with so many people losing land that in some cases has been in the family for generations.

In 10 years the economy has changed, local taxes have increased, no new jobs have come in and as Davies says, the family ties to the land has eroded away.

Paying taxes is a job and that job usually falls to one member of the family. Whether you are a single owner or own with a few siblings or you and 480 of your near and distant relatives own the land . . . making sure the payments are made and made on time is a job.

With the price of kids and school, gas and food and housing and clothing, it is no wonder that sometimes that Mississippi swampland falls at the bottom of the must-pay pile of bills.

To make matters worse, the property tax bill comes in January. Christmas and New Year’s is over. You overspent as usual. And what arrives in the mailbox  in the cold days of January? Your land tax bill.

Whether you own one acre or 500, finding any leftover money is sometimes impossible.

State Auditor Stacy Pickering spoke at the local Lions Club meeting awhile back, and he had an interesting opinion about taxes. He told a story of he and his son in the woods one day and his son asks “Dad, why do we pay rent on our land. And Dad says, “We don’t pay rent son, we own our land,” whereupon smart- alekly Son asks, “then what are taxes?” (I’m pretty sure Pickering made this story up…)

Anyway, this got ol’ Pickering to thinking. Why not abolish taxes. Let’s just cut them out altogether. Forget about public anything. Let’s privatize everything.

It sounds great in theory. Sounds real American, real capitalist society, and it may come to that.

The Tax Assessor and Collector will now require that we pay for the privilege to ride the road with no paper reminder of when to pay nor how much to pay. Property taxes are going up again this year. We know the school system needs more money and we have not heard if the county will make a request.

Paying taxes is not easy. Letting swampland mature and the tax bill disappear seems more appealing every year.

(Speaking of mature, guess who turns 50 this week. That would be mature me. I’m not handling the aging process very well. I expected to have so much more done by this time. Oh well, back to the matter at hand . . .death and taxes.)