It is utterly ridiculous. I have a home in Los Angeles and Palm Springs, and California is famous for high taxes, yet we don’t pay anything close to what I will be paying.

So says Tod Abrams, in a peevish, petulant portrayal of his property tax plight from yesterday’s New York Times.

Toddfoolery, I say. Or, because it can apparently now be spelled with one d, todfoolery. Toddfoolery or todfoolery is foolish nonsense from someone named Tod(d).

This Tod, eerily paralleling last year’s plaintive Todd, is perturbed that “his monthly real estate taxes are poised to surge by more than 400 percent over the next several years.”¹ In 2018, the “unbelievable deal” Tod’s been getting on property taxes will have run its course.

Todfoolery the first. “Unbelievable,” as opposed to “utterly ridiculous,” is no exaggeration.

When he bought a condo at the Orion for $1,575,000 in 2007, Tod’s property taxes were $35.26 [sic] a month. He now pays $373.73/month. In 2018, the estimated tax bill will be $1,629/month (tax-deductible).

None of this was unknown to Tod. The Times discreetly hinted as much by titling its article “421a Tax Exemption: Don’t Say You Didn’t Know.” To be fair, Tod didn’t say he didn’t know about all this. He just said it was utterly ridiculous.

Todfoolery the second. “California is famous for high taxes”

Granted, I’m from New Jersey, where property taxes are high, but $1,629/month doesn’t seem like a lot of property tax for a $1.5M condo. Not that I own a $1.5M condo. Maybe it seems like more to someone from California.

California may be “famous for high taxes,” but any such fame has to do with personal income taxes, not property taxes. Property taxes in California are famous, though. They’re famous for Proposition 13, which keeps them low compared to many other states.

Todfoolery the third and fourth. “don’t pay anything close to what I will be paying”

Q: What does Tod pay in California property tax, anyway, and is it “anything close” to the $1,629/month he won’t be paying in New York in 2018 (because he’s selling his place), which he says it’s not?

A: On his Los Angeles home alone, Tod pays $13,500/year, or $1,125/month in property taxes, and yes, this isanything close” to $1.629/month.

Todfoolery the fifth. “over 400 percent”

The anticipated New York property tax increase is 336%, which is definitely not “over 400 percent.”²

Todfoolery the sixth. “slashed”

Poor Tod, as we learn from Times reporter Julie Satow, is selling his Orion condo (at left).

Tod, “who has relocated to Los Angeles³ to be closer to his son and for work, has already slashed the price three times…”

He’s “slashed the price three times.” The quotation marks indicate that this is a real quote from the Times article, but scare quotes are also in order for “slashed,” or perhaps “three.”

Tod initially listed his place for $1,950,000. After three weeks, he shockingly abandoned hope for a 24 percent-in-four-years profit — despite the recent housing boom — and he (Slash #1) relisted his condo for $1,695,000. Slash #2  saw the listing price plummet from $1,695,000 to $1,645,000, or almost three percent. Three percent! Slash #3 saw the price plunge nearly 4.3 percent further, to $1,575,000.

Shower scene music from Psycho, from

As much as I love the Times, which is a lot, its Real Estate section, and especially the “let’s feel sorry for people who might not make a six-figure profit on that third residence they bought a very few years ago” articles, especially those that use wrong and misleading numbers in a bid to garner (whose?) sympathies, gets on my nerves. Sometimes it makes me spitting mad.

¹ Where several is seven. This may be a new Times record for the length of time over which something is reported to surge. The previous record appears to have been set in 2006 when the Times reported a “43.1 percent surge over six years.”

² The anticipated increase is $1,629 – $373.73 = $1,255.27, which can easily be seen to be less than four times $373.73.

Note also that if gasoline prices were to fall from $4/gallon to $3/gallon, it would be wrong to report that they had “surged by 75%,” whether the price drop happened in a day or took place over seven years.

The New York Times Manual of Usage and Style ought to explain how to calculate percentages if it doesn’t already. It does, after all, explain the similar problem with the phrase “times smaller.”

³ Tod “relocated” to the Los Angeles home he’s owned continuously since 2002.