The complex truth behind the political spin on property taxes

Categories: Taxes

Jeramey Jannene

Taxes can be complicated. That was the case earlier this week, when a report on property taxes from the Minnesota legislature's House Research Department became something of a rallying point for the state's Republicans, with many coming out saying that the report, and its projections for property taxes over the next two years, clearly shows an attack on the middle class.

Minnesota GOP Rep. Matt Dean has been especially vocal on Twitter, writing in a tweet on Wednesday that, "The bullseye was stuck on greater MN & suburban families. They raised their taxes plain & simple."

See also:
Here's why Minnesota's relatively high tax rate isn't necessarily a bad thing

Even Senate Republican leader David Hann got in on the act, saying in a statement: "The next time you hear Governor Dayton and the Democrats say property taxes are going down, don't believe their election year rhetoric. For the second year in a row, property taxes are going up. If the governor really wanted to make home ownership more affordable for people, then he shouldn't have raised taxes on Minnesota families by $2 billion."

But oddly, it wasn't just the GOP celebrating. The left also praised the report, with the House DFL Caucus writing on its Facebook page that "A non-partisan House Research report released today shows property taxes will drop by $49 million in 2014. This is the first decrease in property taxes since 2002! The DFL-led legislature made direct property tax relief a priority in our budget, enacting $177 million in direct property tax relief in 2013-14."

So are property taxes going up or down? And does it really matter? To get to the bottom of it, we turned to the actual author of the nonpartisan report, House Legislative Analyst Steve Hinze, and had him explain who's right.

As it turns out, it all depends on how you look at the report, and specifically, a few property tax relief bills that Governor Dayton signed into law over the past year or so. In total, the bills gave about $175 million back to taxpayers in property tax refunds, cutting their bill significantly.

(Click over to page 2 to find out more.)

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A top federal estate tax rate of 35 percent with a $5 million exclusion, adjusted for inflation for anyone dying after 2011 (in 2012). For 2010, EGTRRA repeals the stepped-up basis rules and replaces them with a modified carryover basis regime. The Senate bill revives the traditional stepped-up basis regime for all assets included in the gross estate for decedents dying on or after January 1, 2011 and on or before December 31, 2012. Under the stepped-up basis rules, the income tax basis of property acquired from a decedent at death generally is stepped up (or stepped down) to its value as of the date of the decedent's death (or the estate tax alternate valuation date, if elected).

Schultzy @


My taxes have gone up every year I've owned my house even while the value of my home went down. Jesus, Robbie Fienberg, don't you realize how stupid you look when you write distorted crap like this?

Chris Kurle
Chris Kurle

They only seem to know one direction - UP.

Tyler Chip Moody Suter
Tyler Chip Moody Suter

Republicans are such snakes. How many times were property taxes raised under the Pawlenty administration? A BUNCH, because he kept cutting state taxes, placing budget burdens squarely on the shoulder's of property owners, because cities had no other source of revenue to draw from when providing services like snow removal. State republicans have no leg to stand on, here.


I live in Washington county. My property taxes have stayed the same, or gone down slightly for the last five years. I have lived in places that are considered lower tax places, and the quality of life reflects it. You get what you pay for. But I guess the grass is always greener somewhere else.

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