The tax man cometh – with good news |

The tax man cometh – with good news

Nevada Appeal editorial board

It’s not often you get something in the mail from the tax man that you’ll want to open.

Next month, don’t overlook the request you’ll be getting from Carson City Assessor Dave Dawley (or your own county assessor) asking if you live in the home you own.

If so, it’s going to make a difference on your tax bill.

The Legislature’s property tax cap of 3 percent applies only to owner-occupied residences. Commercial properties, which include rentals, are subject to tax increases up to 8 percent, although in Carson City the actual figure is 6.26 percent.

It’s the assessor’s job to figure out, of the thousands of homes on the tax rolls, which are owned by the people who occupy them. There’s really no way other than to send out a voucher and ask people to respond honestly.

Ignoring the request will come at your own expense, because Dawley will assume it’s a rental unless otherwise notified. Lying about the status, well, that’s another matter. It could constitute perjury, a potential felony.

This is by no means a perfect system, just as the legislation enacting the property-tax cap lacks some long-term relief measures we would like to have seen. But it’ll work.

The two-tier tax system – lower for owner-occupied residences, higher for everybody else – is new to Nevada. The Legislature and governor are counting on a legal opinion that says a clause in the state constitution allows them to declare anything over a 3 percent increase a “hardship” for residents.

We’ll be surprised if that’s never challenged in court, especially as the years pass and businesses gradually take on an increased share of the tax burden.

In the meantime, though, homeowners should welcome the break – if they bother to respond to the assessor’s questionnaire.