Letter: Mary Gail Swenson, CountrySide

Editor: For the past 43 years, my husband and I have lived and raised our family in Loudoun County. We started in a townhouse in Sugarland Run, moved to a single-family house there, and eventually found ourselves in CountrySide.

All these homes were in homeowners association communities. Over the years, our taxes and homeowners dues have risen dramatically. As a young family and now as retirees, these sometimes double payments for services from the county and association have been hard to meet.

That’s why I appreciate that Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-VA)is working with both Democrats and Republicans to address this problem. She has cosponsored a bill, introduced by Democrats Rep. Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA) and Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA), which would allow homeowners earning up to $115,000 in annual income to deduct up to $5,000 in community association fees from their federal tax liability. The Helping Our Middle-Income Earners (HOME) Act will not only make homeownership more affordable, but will also provide those currently residing in condominium associations and homeowner associations with more take home pay. This extra income is sorely needed for many families in our area in helping to offset steep costs of daily expenses.

I appreciate Barbara’s efforts in trying to get a little bit of money in my pocket to spend and invest as I please and I hope Congress will consider this legislation as a part of comprehensive tax reform.

Mary Gail Swenson, CountrySide


13 thoughts on “Letter: Mary Gail Swenson, CountrySide

  • 2016-09-28 at 1:16 pm

    I did not know Rep. Comstock is doing this and am glad that she is. It makes no sense that we can deduct local taxes from our federal taxes but not HOA dues which pay for substantially the same things (trash, grounds upkeep, road maintenance, etc.).

  • 2016-09-30 at 11:45 am

    Surprised to see David Dickson support this idea, but maybe not since he is set to financially gain. David is usually about limiting govt and taxes but here he wants to make all taxpayers pay for his luxuries. Why, David, should we pay for your community pool? Why should we pay for maintaining your private property? Why should we pay for your community parties? No, HOA living is a choice and the public should not subsidize that choice.

  • 2016-09-30 at 2:34 pm

    CareerSwitcher, what is the difference between the town taxes and HOA fees? You cite the HOA pool. Leesburg residents take their town taxes off their federal taxes. Those taxes go to pay for Ida Lee do they not? Is there not a pool there? How about the town’s Parks and Recreation? Taxes pay for that too.

    If you want to argue that neither local taxes nor HOA fees should be tax deductible, then that is a fair argument. But, if you are going to allow the one, then you must fairly allow the other.

    • 2016-09-30 at 6:27 pm

      Not at all David. There is a huge difference between mandatory taxes and the choice to live in a HOA. If we left you deduct your HOA fees, what’s to stop you from having HOA fees pay for your membership to the Trump Golf course. Or you cable bill. You simply want to take my money to pay for your extravagant life style. You don’t want to pay your fair share for schools yet you want others to pay your greens fees?

    • 2016-10-01 at 11:38 am

      The key for the tax deduction is not what the taxes pay for but that they are taxes in the first place.

      If you want to treat HOA fees like taxes, then the law must define HOAs as taxing jurisdictions or authorities – and subject them to requirements and limits similar to those it can impose on counties, cities, and towns, and whether and how special tax districts may be established.

      Perhaps you could craft legislation defining which portion of HOA fees are considered as taxes (and therefore deductible from taxable income) and which are luxury loopholes. Good luck with that, though.

      But seriously, can you imagine how your local HOA might fare dealing with FOIA requirements?

  • 2016-10-01 at 9:11 pm

    Rather ironic that I’m agreeing with Rdj and CareerSwitcher but this proposal by Comstock (and Buffington I might add) is beyond the pale. This is just the handout mentality that our gov’t has turned into. We should be eliminating deductions, not allowing communities to itemize their cable bill. Yes, Lansdowne and the Broadlands was set up with a $150/month built-in tech fee that covered cable, internet and phone. It also covered indoor/outdoor pools, annual parties and the like. Why in the world should this be tax deductible?

    I would even be surprised if Comstock actually supported this. It’s just an attempt to pander to anybody and everybody for votes. While Bennett would be much worse because of her support for Pelosi, these types of pork barrel politics by Comstock should make conservatives/libertarians puke. I wish they could find a replacement for her.

  • 2016-10-04 at 9:48 am

    A few additional points:

    1. I’d like to hear some of this kind of complaining when localities waste tax funds. Nobody complains they get to deduct local taxes when a) Leesburg wastes $1M to expand the sidewalks to benefit a handful of downtown business owners b) Leesburg wants to install a $300k water fountain c) general waste at the municipal level d) pick your own waste of local tax dollars. We get to deduct local incompetence from our federal tax bills and I’ve never heard anyone complain about that.

    2. Think about what HOAs actually pay for and who would pay for them if the HOA didn’t. My HOA covers: common area landscaping, a road reserve fund, clubhouse with pool, trash collection, water bill, insurance, and snow removal. 95% of these costs would be born by the municipality if the HOA didn’t exist. The price of these services is being carried by the HOA instead of, for instance, the Town of Leesburg. Does it make any sense whatsoever that they are not tax deductible?

    3. There is worry about not being able to CONTROL what HOAs pay for (ah, liberals and their control issues). CareerSwitcher worries everyone will be paying for greens fees and then tells me, “You don’t want to pay your fair share for schools…” But, Careerswitcher, you have no problem taxing people that don’t use the schools? You don’t want a deduction for people that use a service that you don’t use, but you want to tax everyone for a service that you do use (or, at least, prefer) even if they personally don’t use that service (i.e. public schools). Hypocrite.

    4. Anything that allows Americans to keep more of the money they earn is good. Anything that reduces the income of our inept federal government is better.

    • 2016-10-04 at 7:16 pm

      “taxing people that don’t use the schools? ”

      Hey David – two thoughts:

      First, you received you education because other people paid for it. So stop griping about having to pay for others. You got yours so why not pay back what you owe.

      Second, an educated society benefits everyone. You are not paying simply for the benefit of families with children. You are paying because we don’t want stupid people running around.

  • 2016-10-05 at 10:41 am

    Earth to CareerSwitcher. You state, “stop griping about having to pay for others” after you introduce the school topic by stating, “you don’t want to pay your fair share for schools.” I was discussing roads and landscaping and then you go off topic and then tell me to stop griping about the topic you brought up. Had you not brought it up, I would not have mentioned it.

    But, since you did:

    “First, you received you education because other people paid for it. So stop griping about having to pay for others. You got yours so why not pay back what you owe.” I have and more. Since none of my children attend public schools, all that property tax money I’ve contributed has gone to paying for YOUR kids to go to school. I expect a big, fat Christmas card stuffed with cash. I also expect you to pay your fair share. It is $15k/year per kid in LCPS. It is time you stop siphoning money from other peoples families to pay for your own. Man up and start pulling your own weight.

    “Second, an educated society benefits everyone. You are not paying simply for the benefit of families with children. You are paying because we don’t want stupid people running around.” And how has our illustrious public schools system done at stopping stupid people from running around? We have an educational SYSTEM but whether people are coming out of this system with an education is debatable. As is broadly known, the American public school system is a “C-” system at best.

    • 2016-10-05 at 10:56 am

      not to nitpick, David, but you brought up the idea about not paying for public education. Maybe you forgot what you wrote. To refresh your memory, “ax everyone for a service that you do use (or, at least, prefer) even if they personally don’t use that service (i.e. public schools). Hypocrite.”

      Now, saying that you should not pay for public schools is an argument that was put to bed a century ago. Our country and our civilization has recognized the value of public education long before you got to go to school. There is not need to refight this battle or to challenge your rating of our schools. You are consistently opposing the idea that public education is needed and your opinion about LCPS schools does not reflect the opinions of so many families whose children are learning, are going to college well prepared, and are making a positive contribution to society.

  • 2016-10-05 at 1:38 pm

    CareerSwitcher, you are losing your mind. See your post at 2016-09-30 at 6:27 pm stating, “You don’t want to pay your fair share for schools yet you want others to pay your greens fees?” My “hypocrite” post was at 2016-10-04 at 9:48 am. Even with a public school education, I think you can see that my post was 4 days after yours.

    You started it. Neener-neener-nah-nah.

    And you are putting words in my mouth. I never said public schools should be abolished. The cost of public schools is way overpriced and I oppose giving children a private school education paid for by the taxpayer (Academies of Loudoun, anyone). In general, public education is ineffective and wasteful of both money and time. Statistics clearly prove that the USA spends large amounts on education but we only get mediocre results from our students. That is largely because the Democratic Party refuses to do what is best for children and continues to do what keeps them in power. When good ideas like vouchers to enable inner city youth to escape their miserable schools appear, Democrats shoot them down to keep their “jobs program” intact and placate the teachers unions. They’d rather keep kids in poverty and enable them to grow. Selfish, selfish, selfish liberals.

    • 2016-10-05 at 9:21 pm

      Ok, David, I understand your timing issue. But, from your response here, everyone can tell you have given the issue of publically funded education a lot of thought. My original statement originate from your many posts in the past on the subject. You are a well known adversary to paying for public schools.

      So, to help me clarify your current statements, when you say inner city, are you talking about downtown Leesburg. Being from Sterling, I can understand you thinking King Street was inner city. The reality is that your property taxes pay for Loudoun County schools which includes the public school called Academies of Loudoun (where do you get the idea it is a private school). You do not pay for schools anywhere else. If you are trying to pick a fight about federal education dollars, keep in mind that education only counts for 4.2% of the federal budget with that money going to many different schools and many different levels. Even if half of the fed budget went to inner city schools, that amounts to a hundred or so of you income tax dollars going to help inner city schools. Go ahead and complain but keep the amount in perspective.

  • 2016-10-06 at 9:05 am

    CareerSwitcher, since you asked:

    “You are a well known adversary to paying for public schools.” No, it is the amount we pay that is the problem.

    “when you say inner city, are you talking about downtown Leesburg” No, Loudoun’s inner city is definitely Sterling.

    “Academies of Loudoun (where do you get the idea it is a private school)” Because it is a complete waste of tax dollars. Loudouners wanted an elitist school and forced the minority to pay for it. If you want an elitist school, then open your own pocketbook and pay for your own kid to go to a private school. It is a private school paid for with public funding.

    “You do not pay for schools anywhere else.” ??? You said 4.2% of the federal budget goes to education, so 4.2% of my federal tax dollars go to schools as do my state tax dollars. Granted, I pay much more for LCPS than any other school

    “education only counts for 4.2% of the federal budget” It should be 0.0%. Education is a local/state matter and should be handled at those levels of government with a roughly 90/10 split.

    My main gripe is that there could be a bounty of educational alternatives if Democrats stopped putting politics over children. Secondarily, the cost of funding public education is way too high. Thirdly, public paid education should be about academics, academics, academics.

    All of which has nothing to do with this letter. HOA deductions are still a valid idea and I hope to see it put into law.

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