This Comment argues that a co-tenant who improves a concurrent estate without the consent of the other co-tenant should be liable for the increased tax liability caused by the improvement. Part II surveys the current law surrounding concurrent estates, providing background to the common law rules on the various types of co-tenants. This will provide context for the subsequent argument about how property taxes could have a drastic effect on the current face of concurrent estates. The Author will overview property taxes as they relate to local property, delving into the property tax rates, in particular, and how they relate to concurrent estates.
In Part III, the Author will discuss the principles of a sound state tax policy, and weigh those principles to determine what are the most important factors in creating a tax. This will illuminate the need for a concrete rule and what that rule should be.
Part IV of this Comment will set up the central problem: whether a co-tenant can improve the concurrent estate to the extent that the property tax liability is too great for the other co-tenant, essentially improving the co-tenant out of the property. The problem poses related issues with the well-established case law. If the purpose of not allowing a co-tenant the right to contribution for improvements is to prevent a wealthier co-tenant from ousting his or her other co-tenants, then why can he or she currently do it through a loophole of creating tax liability? However, if the non-improving co-tenant is not liable for the property tax, is the purpose behind the required contribution for necessary costs void?
Part V will offer a solution to the tax liability from improvements to concurrent property. The Author will propose to close the gap in the law consistent with the rule for improvements by a co-tenant. The improving co-tenant will be liable for the rise in tax liability for any improvement done without the consent of the non-improver. Ultimately, a co-tenant should not be in danger of being ousted from a concurrent estate by an increase in tax liability due to non-consented improvements to the property owned in joint tenancy. Therefore, the Author proposes the gap in the current law be addressed with the requisite legislation.
Eric M. Biscopink,
Never Stop Improving? The Unforeseen Impact of Improving Concurrent Estates on Tax Liability of Co-tenants,
Tex. A&M J. Real Prop. L.
Available at: https://scholarship.law.tamu.edu/journal-of-property-law/vol1/iss2/1