Yesterday, I joined with 700 or so REALTORS®, as we descended on Hartford
for the annual REALTORS® at the Capitol day.
The morning began with an orientation session, to familarize us with the details of the proposed bills, being addressed. The hottest issue, on the agenda, was the increased municipal portion of the conveyance tax. Under current law, the 2003 emergency increase in the tax is finally set to "sunset" on June 30, 2008. The increased tax, was originally enacted for one year, but has been extended three times. The proposed bill would make the increase permanent.
Following the orientation session, we moved to break-out sessions, to meet with Legislators from our local areas. It was here that we had the opportunity to vocalize our opposition to this increased burden on Connecticut homesellers. One disturbing characterization of our opposition, was hearing it referred to as "the REALTORS® bill. One Representative reiterated a finding, reported to the larger assembly, that the increased tax had not had an impact on home sales and therefore was not hurting the Real Estate agent's income.
That brought a sharp retort, explaining that we, as REALTORS® did not come to Hartford to fight for ourselves. Our pupose was to look out for the best interests of our clients, the Connecticut homebuyers and sellers. It was further explained that, especially in the current market, when many people have little or no equity in their homes and may already be selling at a loss, hitting them with a double tax is an unfair burden.
We were told that we were "preaching to the choir" and that they were on our side. However, the municipalities had gotten used to the extra revenue and they also had a strong lobby, pushing to make the increase permanent. Realistically, it was stated, there was little chance that the bill would be defeated.
They were correct, to some extent. Today, the Legislature's Finance Committe voted 29-to-21 to overturn the scheduled "sunset" of the increased tax. But, it turns out, we did have an impact. Our presence, plus thousands of signatures on antitax petitions, which we delivered, brought about a small victory. In place of the bill to make the increased tax permanent, a substitute bill will be brought to the full House and Senate, which extends the increase for another two years.
We will continue to urge the legislature to vote against the bill and allow the tax to "sunset."