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Letter: Measure 2 is good for North Dakotans

When North Dakotans cast their votes on Nov. 4, we urge them to vote yes on Measure 2.

Measure 2 is a constitutional measure introduced by the 2013 Legislative Assembly to prohibit the state of North Dakota and any of its political subdivisions from imposing any transfer taxes on the mortgage or transfer of real property.

A transfer tax is a tax imposed when a person transfers real property through a sale or by transferring it to their children or relatives. We’re lucky in North Dakota because we don’t have a transfer tax, but we’re in the minority. Thirty-six other states, including Minnesota and South Dakota, impose some form of a transfer tax. And often, states impose a transfer tax at both the state and local or county levels so the transfer of property is taxed twice, on top of the Deed Registration Fee and annual property tax. In a majority of states with transfer taxes, the percentage of the tax has been increased time after time to increase revenue.

Depending on the sale and the tax rate, transfer taxes can add thousands or tens of thousands of dollars to the cost of selling, buying or transferring property. Take a $200,000 home, for example. A 1 percent transfer tax would add an extra $2,000 to the cost of the transaction. If the state and the municipality both levied a 1 percent tax, that adds $4,000. A 1 percent transfer tax on farmland passed from one generation to the next could cost tens of thousands of dollars. These are just examples but they demonstrate how much the transfer tax can impact people looking to transfer property.

Measure 2 is important because it protects the people of North Dakota from ever having a transfer tax imposed on the buying, selling or transfer of real property. Because, quite frankly, enough is enough when it comes to taxes.

Homeowners already pay property taxes. Transfer taxes are nothing more than double taxation that unfairly target people who are selling, buying or transferring a home or property. We are concerned that as the state continues to reduce property taxes at the local level, municipalities will turn to a transfer tax for additional revenue. It’s happened in other states time and time again.

And we all know that real estate prices are on the rise. A transfer tax will make it more expensive to buy a home and will affect first-time homebuyers the most; we should be working to make home ownership more affordable. Transfer taxes will also make it more expensive to sell a home, which will be an unjust burden on seniors looking to downsize.

Prohibiting transfer taxes will help keep closing costs down and protect people from double taxation on the sale or transfer of real property. We need to make sure North Dakotans aren’t unduly burdened by another tax on property – we already pay property taxes.

Stop the Tax. Vote yes on measure 2.

Vicki Roller, president, and Greg Larson, president-elect, of the North Dakota Association of Realtors