Home Is Where The Property Taxes Are Mad High

Matthew Yglesias on Pamela Johnson, who owns a storefront in D.C.'s Northeast H Street corridor and is upset about the streetcar being built:

The question is why, exactly, is she upset? According to the article she’s upset because her property tax bill has tripled, which is putting her at risk of losing the building she owns in a tax sale. But doesn’t this mean her building has tripled in value? Ceteris paribus, I’d rather pay less property tax than more. But having your investment in a building appreciate is better than having it decline in value and then you get a tax break. At the same time, it seems like we should take Johnson at her word that some feature of this situation is making her worse off. But I wonder what it is, exactly. If you buy low and then wind up needing to sell high because you can’t cover the property tax out of your income, it seems to me that you’re still coming out ahead. At a minimum, it’s hard to see how she could have been better off had the city not invested in improved infrastructure adjacent to property she owns.

This really depends on how you define "coming out ahead." I don't know Johnson, but let's say what she really wants is to run a store in the neighborhood she lives in. It's not really "coming out ahead" to sell her property at a profit if that means that she has to move to PG County and start a whole new career, unless she wants to do that. Otherwise, from her perspective, she just got pushed out of the neighborhood she wanted to live and work in. I'm not sure what's hard to understand about that. 

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