Let Me Tell You How It Will Be

Taxes are said to be one of life’s certainties.  We’ve paid a fortune in taxes over the years, and I’m not satisfied that they were used wisely.  But as we all know, they’re not optional.

We did find a seemingly foolproof way to avoid paying income taxes. Homesteading small farmers don’t have to worry much about that one. Likewise consumption-based taxes can be greatly reduced by greatly reducing consumption. When you don’t spend much money their bite isn’t so bad.  The tax that gives us the most heartburn these days is property tax.

As someone once said, if you think you own property just stop paying your taxes. You’ll soon find out who the real owners are.

As we prepared to transition to this lifestyle we eliminated lots of expenses and made sure that going forward we wouldn’t owe anyone anything and could be as reasonably self-reliant as possible. But we must pay the government every year for the privilege of owning our farm and our property taxes keep climbing.  It’s an expense we can neither eliminate nor control.

As tempting as it is, I won’t launch into a tirade about local government.  It really doesn’t matter much whether I agree with how it raises revenue or what it does with it.  We’re required to pony up whatever they tell us to pay and no amount of complaining is going to change that.  And to be fair, some tax revenue is necessary and there will be valid objections to any method used to raise it.

But for anyone thinking of transitioning to a less-complicated lifestyle, don’t forget the taxman.

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23 comments on “Let Me Tell You How It Will Be

  1. Joanna says:

    One of the beauties of living here in Latvia is the low land taxes and we can live here very cheaply, especially if we could live on site as that would eliminate much of the money spent on fuel. One of the disadvantages is also the low wages, that means that raising the finances to pay for the essentials also takes longer – you win some, you lose some.

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    • Bill says:

      I think a lot of people who move to the country assume the cost of living is going to be lower there. They don’t take into account that they’ll have to drive a lot more (assuming they keep their city jobs), increasing what they spend on gas and vehicle depreciation. Everything else costs about the same I’d guess. Wages in rural areas tend to be much lower, so people who move out to the country expecting to get by on less may find that they still have the expenses, but now have less income to pay them with.

      Florida has no income tax, but high property taxes. Virginia’s property taxes aren’t as high as Florida’s, but Virginia also has an income tax and a “car tax.” The property taxes are simply an annual expense we can’t control or reduce (as long as we have the farm, at least), regardless of how good we are as homesteaders.

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      • Joanna says:

        Conversely here in Latvia, people might move out to the countryside from the towns in a crisis, such as losing a job. This is because nearly everyone has some sort of a summer house (land rich, cash poor) and so can grow their own food. Better than going hungry in the city

        Liked by 1 person

      • Joanna says:

        Having just said that about Latvia and it cheaper to move out to the countryside, that is definitely not true of the UK. The same problems as you mention affect those living in the UK, such as taxes on land and eye-wateringly high fuel prices

        Liked by 1 person

    • Zambian Lady says:

      I spent last Friday in Riga, toured around and was surprised at the low prices. Of course, I do not know rent levels and tax, but I thought that the prices were very fair in spite of being in the Euro zone.

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      • Joanna says:

        Rent levels are substantially higher in Riga, of course it is the capital, but wages are higher there too.

        Hope you enjoyed your visit to Riga, it is a lovely place to visit

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  2. ain"t for city gals says:

    you know what makes me laugh is that our property values in Az have plummeted but our property taxes have skyrocketed….All of our friends are small business owners (mainly construction) and we are all just trying to hold onto what we have worked so hard for….but it is getting harder and harder.

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    • Bill says:

      A friend is selling his farm and he told us his realtor said the rule of thumb is that property here sells for about 90% of it’s assessed value. And that’s in an “up” market.

      Property taxes mean that one can never own property debt-free. And the government won’t accept payment in vegetables. So they also mean that property owners will have to stay plugged into the money-based economy, like it or not.

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  3. valbjerke says:

    Where we live, you can apply for ‘farm status’. A calculation based on the amount of land you have dictates how much income they expect you to make. Every two years I fill out a five page form listing all sales, what kind of livestock/produce/eggs/hay etc. we have sold, what livestock we have held back for breeding purposes and so on. You also need to provide receipts. Our taxes are 298.00 a year. I believe most provinces have similar programs in place. We are also allowed to buy marked fuel – which is cheaper – though you have to keep a liter log as you are not given the benefit so you can use it to travel to and from work. You are also allowed a ‘farm plate’ on your vehicle for cheaper insurance, and any purchases you make for the farm – your taxes are refunded.
    Now having said all that – I don’t know any farmers that are able to stay home full time and farm. It’s a tough row to hoe regardless. 😊

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    • Bill says:

      We have those things too. Because we are a income-producing farm, our property taxes are lower than they would be if we weren’t. I have farm vehicle plates on my truck, which are less expensive than otherwise, but don’t save me anything on insurance. We don’t have to pay sales tax on farm purchases. Those things help. But our property taxes are still are biggest annual expense.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Bob Braxton says:

    My mother, now age 91, is the owner of family forty acres where my great grandfather died in 1920. The land (“farm”) has no road frontage at all – and is right at a County line. The last time timber was cut there was probably the 1930’s (and many salivating companies have offered to take the timber). In recent years her land (not farmed, not developed, no road frontage) had a big leap upward in assessment. She protested and they reverted to something more reasonable. Another example, we own a small shore-front property (Old Dominion) and because the assessment had not been done for ages, once they did it the value went to six times what it used to be. We did not protest. The primary value is the location. Similar pieces of land away from the shore-line would have a fraction of assessed value.

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    • Bill says:

      Ours keep going up and our assessment is higher than we could ever realistically expect to get if we had to sell the farm. There is a mechanism for contesting the valuation but I’ve never done that. Probably something we’ll have to pay more attention to in the future.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Bob Braxton says:

        I suspect that my (aged) mother did the protest on her own or with the help of my middle sister (born 1955) – and not with help of any lawyer. Not certain. Alamance County, NC.

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  5. Zambian Lady says:

    I do not mind high taxes as long as I can see where they are going. Taxes in the country up north are extremely high, but the residents do not mind because they say the government will be there for them when they need help.

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  6. I don’t like taxes… but I do like good schools and libraries and roads and fire protection, and well, the list goes on. I do wish we had a flat tax, that everybody paid… including the very wealthy. –Curt

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    • Bill says:

      Taxing farmers based on the value of their farmland, and then taxing them again on their income (if they have any) seems a bit unfair. But as I said, there probably isn’t any perfect way to collect the revenue needed for public services. And there isn’t any way to separate out what we’re willing to pay for and what we’d rather not pay for. We sent our money to the feds, for example, and we get both Yellowstone and Gitmo, the EPA and predator drones, etc. Our local taxes fund schools, but they’ll also be used to pay the ACLU’s legal fees thanks to our county’s insistence on opening county government meetings with Christian prayers.

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      • What an interesting world it would be if we could only fund those things we wanted to. I once created an initiative in California than increased the tobacco tax an limited how the government could spend the money. 20% of the funds were dedicated to tobacco use prevention. We realized the the government would never support prevention efforts. The tobacco industry spent $25 million to defeat us. We won. To date, it is estimated that the effort has saved over one million lives and $70 billion in health care costs. All because we protected the prevention dollars. –Curt

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      • Bill says:

        That’s outstanding Curt! Very well done! I’d sure like to see more thinking like that.
        It seems to make little sense to me for governments to impose sin taxes then make themselves dependent upon the revenue from them.

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      • It isn’t easy. Governments, and even the good government folks, are opposed to dedicated taxes. Unfortunately, had we not tied their hands through a public initiative, the money would have gone in to filling potholes, with the blessing of the tobacco industry. So the tobacco industry strategy is 1st no tax increase, and 2nd, oppose that the tax go into prevention programs if a tax is passed.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. avwalters says:

    We’ve kept it in mind in our plans. Not to begrudge it. We as a society benefit over the long haul in educating children, and they do keep the roads clear in the winter…..

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