Joseph Caisse, the state assessor for Alaska, has announced his resignation.
Caissie’s exit from the State of Alaska coincides with a statewide movement to change Alaska’s statutes to protect the public from arbitrary and unjust property tax assessment valuations.
Recently, Caissie came under criticism for implying that members of the Board of Equalization should accept mass appraisal models, even if the methodologies produce assessments of 150% or 200%, which is contrary to the state statute’s mandate that assessments be based on full and true market value.
Caissie announced he will leave at the end of January to take a full-time position leading a 501(c)(4) that promotes something known as Georgism policy, which pushes taxation of land based on what the government thinks it should be developed for, rather than what the property owner decides to do with the land.
According to his parting letter to municipal assessors, Caissie will “be pushing for more jurisdictions to adopt this policy” in his new role.
Georgism, sometimes referred to as the single-tax movement, is a controversial theory of land value taxation. Its basic tenet is that government should be funded by taxes on the unimproved value of land, rather than by taxes on other forms of economic activity.
Caissie’s letter informing local assessors of his coming departure also hinted that he could not stay on as the state assessor: “If there was a way I could stay on as State Assessor while doing this, I absolutely would – this has been the best job I’ve ever had, and it’s been great learning from you all. I wouldn’t be shocked if this isn’t forever – there are some amazing things about this state that I’ve come to take for granted, and I’ve often joked that this place is like the island from LOST (sorry, season 3 spoiler coming up): when I’ve left in the past, I’ve felt a craving to come back. But it’s farewell for now.”
He also offered to coach his successor assessor, saying the job is “not an exempt position, the way I imagine most local assessor jobs are. You are insulated from the public – I’ve had to beg, unsuccessfully, to the higher-ups to let the State Assessor’s Office take on more heat from the local assessors. I’m sure if any of you take the position, having been a local assessor, you will also push for this, and I wish you luck. I’ll send out the job posting to the AAAO list when it goes up, and that should be shortly.”