When is a tax hike not a tax hike?

Reading the news, one could get the impression that property owners in many cities and counties in Mississippi will not have to pay more taxes.  Consider the headline in one newspaper: “Reappraisal may hold off tax increase…”  One city council even voted not to increase the tax rate, saying “…no to new taxes.” But taxpayers in both those places will be paying more in taxes.  Why?  Because their property values went up due to reappraisal.

Ah, it’s that time of year when cities, counties and school districts are deciding on their budgets. In areas where reappraisals have shown an increase in property values there will be an automatic increase in revenue if the tax millage rate is unchanged.  If property values have gone down, then officials must raise the millage rate just to maintain the same revenue.

If a property owner pays more in taxes, his or her tax goes up.  What officials – and some news media – are really saying is that they are not raising the tax RATE, not the tax.

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