Utah should make real estate prices public
An article in Tuesday's Tribune, "Romneys purchase Deer Valley home," exemplifies another area in which the very wealthy get tax breaks, in this case property tax breaks. The Romneys reportedly bought a home in Park City which had been listed for $8.9 million. The sale price is unknown, as Utah doesn't have a disclosure law, unlike 47 other states, requiring sales to be publicly recorded.
Sales of high-end properties are not as frequent, and owners are reluctant to disclose the sale price to the assessor. Therefore the assessor has a harder time estimating values for the very high-end homes, so they often make a conservative estimate. The Romney property likely sold much closer to the listing price than to the value placed by the Summit County Assessor of $3.7 million. If the property sold for a price closer to the listing price, the resulting tax would be up to $80,000, compared to the current tax of $33,648. The rest of the property owners in the county are required to make up the difference.
It's time for Utah to wake up and join the other states that have a real estate transfer law to make it easier to equalize the property tax burden.
Alan C. Andrus