Property Taxes: What Does the Constitution Say?

February 4, 2008

Indiana Writers Group column for Feb. 6 and thereafter ( 597 words)

by Andrew Horning

I’m proud to have had something to do with the July 4 “property-tax protest” on the lawn of the Indiana Governor’s Mansion. Yet I’m sorry that most of us have made too much of property tax itself, and far too little of the real issue.

The real issue is much more basic, critical, unequivocal and urgent: Our government is ungoverned, and we are fools to tolerate it.
 
Contrary to popular opinion, nothing is more civilized than a free market, where all transactions are voluntary. Any taxation, on the other hand, is the confiscation of money by force. Politicians claim that taxation is the price of civilization. But taxes are no ticket to civility; they are the wage of politicians. And politicians are known for everything but civilized behavior.
 
So we should approach any discussion of tax policy with profound circumspection and a healthy fear of political power, corruption, violence and failure; because these are, after all, what human history is all about.
 
In the 216 years since the Bill of Rights was ratified, we have allowed our politicians to sneak away from a hard-won rule of law and back to humanity’s brutish, chaotic, authoritarian default state. So while there is much to say regarding the relative merits of one tax versus another, it’s high time we refer back to the constitutions of Indiana and the United States, documents that all Indiana officials have sworn to uphold and defend.
 
Article 1, Section 21, for example, forbids commandeering citizens’ services or property “without just compensation.” And Article 1, Section 22 forbids the theft of citizens’ “necessary comforts of life” for payment of any debt to the state.

Read these for yourself and ask your representatives if a home is among the “necessary comforts of life;” and what could possibly be “just compensation” for taking it away?
 
Then consider why politicians take your money and property.
 
Article 10, Section 6 says, “. . . nor shall any county loan its credit to any incorporated company, nor borrow money for the purpose of taking stock in any such company; nor shall the General Assembly ever, on behalf of the State, assume the debts of any county, city, town, or township; nor of any corporation whatever.”
 
Article 11, Section 12 says, “The State shall not be a stockholder in any bank; nor shall the credit of the State ever be given, or loaned, in aid of any person, association or corporation; nor shall the State become a stockholder in any corporation or association.”
 
So while such spending was never authorized in any U.S. constitution, Indiana’s constitution specifically prohibits political subsidies to the likes of the Colts, Pacers, mall builders, foreign auto companies or any other campaign contributors. In other words, much of what government now spends our money on is illegal spending not just immoral spending.
 
Now read Article 8 of Indiana’s constitution. We’re supposed to pay for our government schools with an inviolable, endowed fund. And constitutionally, only corporate property tax is to be used for schools. Indiana government is not authorized to tax personal property, real or otherwise, for schools. So between Article 8, the aforementioned and other written prohibitions on government spending, most of your tax bills, property or otherwise, shouldn’t be there.
 
Surprised? Angry?
 
Well, there’s a solution for that. First, we should ask our politicians to obey written laws — as written.  But second, we really must change the way we’ve been voting. It’s time to govern our government; and the way to do that is show our politicians that we won’t tolerate their lawlessness any more.

Andrew Horning was the Republican candidate for the 7th District congressional seat in 2004, losing to the incumbent, the late Julia Carson, with 44 percent of the vote. Last summer, Horning helped organize the first tax protest at the governor’s residence. Nothing written here is to be construed as reflecting the views of the foundation or as an attempt to aid or hinder the passage of any bill before the legislature or to further any political campaign.



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