Paying school taxes unconstitutional?
Why do we all have to continue paying a full percentage of property taxes,after our children graduate. It has been shown, the manner in which school taxes are applied is unconstitutional. Why must we still pay?
We moved to Johnstown, Ohio last May and were shocked by all of the local taxes we are expected to pay. My question is how is it legal for a city/village to tax your property (property taxes), tax your income (city taxes), and tax you an additional school district tax on your income? It seems extremely excessive.
Why are cities allowed to charge school taxes on both income and property taxes? Would this not be considered double taxation?
We spoke to John Kohlstrand, from the Ohio Department of Taxation, he says your viewer appears to be asking two questions here. The first concerns the series of DeRolph rulings made by the Ohio Supreme Court between 1997 and 2002. The other concerns whether or not property owners without children of school age ought to pay property taxes toward schools.
In DeRolph, the court did not rule that school property taxes are unconstitutional on their face. This excerpt, from the Ohio Supreme Court’s third major DeRolph ruling, probably better captures the court’s position:
In DeRolph I, this court’s primary concern with the state’s funding system
was that it relied too heavily on local property taxes to fund a statewide system.
78 Ohio St.3d at 212, 677 N.E.2d at 747. The problem this creates, as articulated
in DeRolph II, is that a system overly reliant on local property taxes will result in
disparities between districts because the same tax effort in two different districts
will produce different results. 89 Ohio St.3d at 26, 728 N.E.2d at 1013. In
defining overreliance, we stated that local taxes need not be totally abandoned,
because equality is not constitutionally mandated. DeRolph I, 78 Ohio St.3d at
211, 677 N.E.2d at 746. Rather than completely rejecting property taxes, the
majority stated that “property taxes can no longer be the primary means of
providing the finances for a thorough and efficient system of schools.” (Emphasis
added.) 78 Ohio St.3d at 419, 678 N.E.2d at 887. Thus, some use of local
property taxes is constitutionally permissible.
Therefore, disparity caused by a school-funding system that rests on the
dual foundations of state support and local property tax revenues is
unconstitutional only if the disparity is so dramatic that children in the poorest of
our school districts are deprived of a basic educational opportunity, and a
thorough and efficient distribution of funds need only ensure that each Ohio
school district is financially able to offer an adequate education….
As to the other question: Property taxes are not only constitutional, they are specifically mentioned in the Ohio constitution, which states in part that “Land and improvements thereon shall be taxed by uniform rule according to value..“ (Article XII, Section 2)
This principle—of taxing all real estate uniformly, according to value—dates back to 1851. The upshot is this: Unless the Ohio constitution permits an exemption or exception, real property must be taxed uniformly according to its value.
There are a number of exceptions that have long been permitted in Ohio, such as for property used exclusively as a school, as a church or as a cemetery, for example. Another example is the homestead exemption, which offers property tax relief to qualifying senior citizens.
But, so far as we know, state law has never permitted property to be exempt from taxation simply because its owners do not have children of school age.
For what it’s worth, property taxation in support of public education is a very old tradition in Ohio. It dates back to 1821, when the Ohio General Assembly enacted Ohio’s first comprehensive school law and permitted local school districts to levy a tax on property. This first law did not grant property owners an exception to the tax based on whether or not they had children of school age.