RAHWAY — City homeowners are paying property taxes that are often two to four times higher than they should be, according to a new study by Democratic activist James J. Devine.
Devine examined the assessed value, on which tax bills are based, compared to the most recent sale prices for 144 homes and found only 10 had fair assessments.
“If these findings are consistent with the city wide assessments, fewer than seven percent of Rahway homeowners are paying a fair tax bill while the remaining 93 percent of residential property owners are being cheated,” said Devine. “On top of the massive tax giveaways to giant corporations, such as Merck, City Hall has failed Rahway residents on a fundamental promise of tax fairness.”
Well known as a local Democratic consultant, Devine managed every one of former Mayor Jim Kennedy’s re-election campaigns and served as an operative for many other successful Democrats but his political beliefs made a hard turn toward the ideological left during the presidency of George W. Bush.
Devine strongly opposed the Iraq invasion and tax cuts for the rich, as well as financial sector deregulation that led to the 2008 financial crisis. He has also been sharply critical of those in his own party who have collaborated with Republicans and corporate powers that intruded into the political system.
“You are paying higher taxes because a greedy corporation that is sitting on $55 billion in profits stashed overseas never got a fight when it demanded a one-third reduction in its tax bill,” said Devine. “Merck did not have to fight City Hall because the people we elected failed to fight for Rahway residents.”
Devine said Americans for Tax Fairness identified Merck among the five most aggressive offshore tax dodgers, or corporations keeping trillions in profits stashed in foreign accounts to avoid declaring federal income and paying to support America.
Corporate profits are at a 60-year high, while corporate taxes are near a 60-year low. In 1952, under Republican President Dwight D Eisenhower, corporate income taxes were nearly a third of the federal government’s receipts but had declined to less than 10% by 2012, said Devine.
Meanwhile, Devine said stock markets are at record levels and American CEOs are paid 380 times as much as average workers and the richest one percent of population owns half of all stocks, bonds and mutual funds.
Noting that unemployment remains high, with 25 percent of Americans jobless, working part time or stuck in underpaid positions, Devine’s remarks echo some familiar themes.
President Barack Obama during his State of the Union Address declared that “corporate profits and stock prices have rarely been higher,” but the wages of average workers “have barely budged. Inequality has deepened. Upward mobility has stalled. Our job is to reverse these trends.”
Devine’s study will be posted on his website at www.jimdevine.org and he encouraged residents to use it as evidence for filing tax appeals.
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