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Could Land Transfer Tax Pay for Wake Growth?

Posted September 20, 2007

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— A citizen's group, Wake Up Wake County, is pushing for the county to vote on implementing a land transfer tax, which it said could make growth pay for itself.

The 2007 General Assembly gave permission for counties to seek voter approval for a 0.4 percent transfer tax that owners would pay when selling any piece of real estate. In Wake County, the tax could raise an estimated $50 million a year.

Tax proponents said that money could fund the county's infrastructure needs amid rapid growth.

"Our population is due to double in just 20 years, and we've got to plan for the future," Karen Ridge, with Wake Up Wake County, said. "We've got to figure out fair ways to pay for the infrastructure needs that come with growth."

Some realtors, though, said the tax could hamper the very growth it's meant to sustain, tightening the housing market and making sales more difficult to make. Builders have also opposed the tax, saying it unfairly singles out a small segment of the population.

"If we have to raise taxes, we can raise it another way. There are plenty of other ways to raise revenue," said realtor Martin Hill.

The amount of revenue produced by the tax would be unstable, according to realtors opposed to the tax.

"How are we going to budget with it? We don't know what it's going to be from year to year, because that's market-dependent," realtor Phyllis Brookshire said.

County officials told WRAL the transfer tax would pay for building new infrastructure, primarily schools. It could also cover construction costs for new roads or water and sewer lines.

Realtors and builders bitterly fought the General Assembly's passage of legislation allowing county referendums on the tax. The Legislature reduced the permitted transfer tax rate from 1 to 0.4 percent and gave counties the option of raising sales taxes by 0.25 percent instead if they want more revenue.

Chatham, Johnston, Harnett and Moore are among 16 counties that will have the transfer tax on the ballot this fall. Chatham County officials are holding a series of five education meetings about the tax.

Wake County commissioners said they definitely plan to place the land transfer tax on the ballot in fall 2008. Meanwhile, Wake Up Wake County is planning its campaign to get it passed.

"We're all in this together," Ridge said."And making sure that we continue to have strong schools benefits the real estate and development industry. And they know that."

45 Comments

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  • chevybelair57sd Sep 22, 2007

    You folks are getting what your little yuppie hearts deserve, enjoy your feelings of living sucessfully, hope you enjoy the ever growing bill for it, coupled with a government full of unqualified self serving wasteful politicians who we voted, or didn't bother voting, in. Rotate your govenment and school boards like you do your panty folks, or they develope their own agenda.

  • ObamaMustGo aka NCcarguy Sep 21, 2007

    Impact fees don't work....they just get passed to the consumer. You people don't actually think the developers out of the goodness of his heart just pays more money do you??? They just raise the price of the property. If they HAVE to, they just build BIGGER MORE expensive homes to offset the additional expense, so impact fees really only hurt the poorer people. I have an idea, why not cut wasteful spending????

  • Adelinthe Sep 21, 2007

    The cost of growth should be paid for by those desiring it, either for development purposes or personal ones.

    It should NOT be borne by those who lived here before the growth took place. What recompense would they receive for paying higher taxes just because neighbor is moving in? Nothing! And they would face more noise, pollution and congestion, in most cases.

    Praying for change.

    God bless.

    Rev. RB

  • whatusay Sep 21, 2007

    FriendlyPrimate....who makes the decisions that affect every tax-payer, the politician. If they want to increase taxes do it with a general sales tax so everyone shares in proportion to what they spend. The people who pay no taxes get most of the benefits of government services.

  • Leonardo Sep 21, 2007

    I see lots of general complaints that the city taxes us too much, but I don't see any specifics as to what they should stop spending money on. Fewer cops maybe? Get rid of the parks and greenways that make this city enjoyable? Perhaps we could hire some illegal immigrants to teach our kids? Maybe get rid of schools altogether (kids are moochers anyway)? Any ideas? Or do we just want to be able to complain about something? Who cares about coming up with real solutions when we can just blame everything on the politicians, right?

  • Leonardo Sep 21, 2007

    I'm against land-transfer taxes but in favor of impact fees....
    1) Impact fees go away when development stops.
    2) Impact fees generate the most money when growth is fastest (which is when you need money for infrastructure improvements).
    3) Impact fees increase property values. Since they only apply to new homes, it makes new homes more expensive, which makes older homes more attractive, and therefore worth more. Land-transfer fees do not increase the value of your home...it simply takes money out of your pocket when you switch homes.
    4) Because impact fees increase the value of your house, it's not really an out-of-pocket expense. You essentially get that fee back when you sell your house (in the form of a higher sale price).

  • whatusay Sep 21, 2007

    If this land transfer tax is voted and approved...NOT ONE DIME WILL BE ACCOUNTABLE AT THE END OF THE FIRST YEAR..... It will be squandered by Raleigh government and allocated to different areas that do not need funding just like it always does. When this $50,000,000/year is put in the fiscal budget they will be looking at other opportunities to tax citizens to keep the snowball rolling and getting bigger and bigger. Like building 6 lane roads with no way to get off and only increasing the congestion, but...now we need more taxes to correct these problems. Or laying concrete that cracks up the first time the weather changes...but, we now need more taxes to correct this problem. Or starting a highway that only goes half the distance originally planned, but...now we need more taxes to correct the problem.

  • CYOA1FAN Sep 21, 2007

    Revised Homestead Act-
    A tax break for homeowners that increase tax revenue. After buying a house and living in Texas for 2 years I found it very odd once I moved to NC that my property taxes in Texas increased by $400 per year. After thinking about it I realized Texas Property tax (Homestead) has 2 advantages over our Homestead exemption. #1 unlike our homestead exemptions theirs applies to everyone who primary residence is in Texas not just those who make under $20000 per year or over age 65 or disabled like ours.(tax break for all homeowners) #2 This actually allows you to increase the tax on business and investment properties without increasing the tax on your homeowners and voters in the same bill.
    I would be easy to pass a bill that gives homeowners a tax break.
    Another thing that baffles me is why do we build golf course communities and not school communities? If builders really want to attract homebuyer why not plan and built the school 1st like the golf courses. I’ve witn

  • coolwill Sep 21, 2007

    Wake County is still talking about taxing the resident, how about the builder paying more impact fees. Raise the impact fees and keep your hand out of my pocket. The builder builds for profit only. The builder could care less about how it would affect the county. Now I pay my property tax every year for staying in this county, we the resident owner have already met our obligation for the county. I declare this county and state will tax and fee you to death. They want be happy until they are giving you a living allowance from your own wages. Growth should pay for it self, if it dose not than that is growth no one wants (negative growth). Illegal immigration and there anchor babies has a negative impact on all citizen.

  • whatelseisnew Sep 21, 2007

    While I do not like any tax increase, I agree if they are going to take more money from us a sales tax is a much better way to go. This at least means that everyone residing in Wake County would be helping to pay for infrastructure from which they are supposedly getting a benefit. Having said that, I really think all development should be halted to slow the influx of people and we should get caught up without increasing any taxes whether that takes 20 or 30 years. We are already paying out far too much in taxes with very little in return.

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