An article in Tuesday's Tribune, "Romneys purchase Deer Valley home," exemplifies another area in which the very wealthy get tax breaks, in this case property tax breaks. The Romneys reportedly bought a home in Park City which had been listed for $8.9 million. The sale price is unknown, as Utah doesn't have a disclosure law, unlike 47 other states, requiring sales to be publicly recorded.
Sales of high-end properties are not as frequent, and owners are reluctant to disclose the sale price to the assessor. Therefore the assessor has a harder time estimating values for the very high-end homes, so they often make a conservative estimate. The Romney property likely sold much closer to the listing price than to the value placed by the Summit County Assessor of $3.7 million. If the property sold for a price closer to the listing price, the resulting tax would be up to $80,000, compared to the current tax of $33,648. The rest of the property owners in the county are required to make up the difference.
It's time for Utah to wake up and join the other states that have a real estate transfer law to make it easier to equalize the property tax burden.