Not content with winning battles over real estate transfer taxes every few years, the Louisiana Realtors Association decided to put an end to the possibility once and for all. They decided to try to amend the state constitution to prohibit the taxes, period.
Using funds and assistance from NAR’s My Rearltor® Party initiative (which is designed for just this sort of thing), LRA first convinced both chambers of its legislature to pass the measure, then — per the state’s constitution — turned to consumers to win their support and votes.
They needed 51 percent of voters to approve the “Stay Tax Free” amendment. They got 81 percent.
Virginia’s constitution isn’t as easy to amend, so VAR has to fight transfer taxes more often. As our VP of law and policy Jay DeBoer put it,
VAR has historically opposed transfer taxes — and every other type of fee or tax that singles our industry out for different treatment. The reason is simple — property ownership and free marketability is among the first principles of policy in America. (life, liberty and property is how the original sentence by John Locke read before Jefferson changed it in the Declaration of Independence).
The anti-tax fervor of recent years has placed additional pressure on governments to add “fees”, which are tacked on to a variety of transactions. The Transfer Tax is such a target, because a relatively small additional assessment at the time of a major purchase sometimes goes unnoticed, or seems less burdensome.
However, in Virginia, putting anti-tax positions in the Constitution itself has not been favored, because the Constitution is too difficult to amend.
So we have to fight the same battle over and over — and so far, we’ve won.
You can read more about Louisiana’s victory at NAR’s Realtor Action Center, and get the details of the fight on the Speaking of Real Estate blog.