Will North Dakota be the First to Eliminate Property Tax?

Voters in North Dakota will decide tomorrow whether or not to abolish property taxes in their state.  If the ballot measure is approved, North Dakota would be the only state in the nation to extend full and complete tax relief to property owners.

Many of those who support the ballot measure view property tax as a type of encumbrance on their property that limits ownership rights.  They believe if you’ve paid in full, then you own the property, and there should be nothing in the present or the future that would threaten that ownership — not even failure to pay a tax associated with that property.  Furthermore, North Dakota is one of the few states not feeling the effects of the recession, and proponents feel confident that the state will not miss the $812 million in property tax revenue.

But the opposition has been well-funded and the measure is not expected to pass.  The arguments against the ban on the state’s property tax really come down to fear of change.  How would the state make up for the lost revenue?  What effect would this have on myriad other state laws and regulations that reference the hunred-year-old property tax law?  It is irresponsible; somewhat akin to quitting your well-paying job as soon as you get ahead a little.  But maybe voter trepidation will save North Dakota from falling into debt like so many other states.