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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