The impact of positive property tax differentials on the timing of development
To date, few empirical studies have focused on the location decision by residential developers in response to changes in the property tax. Based on a dynamic time-to-development model by Turnbull, this paper finds, using 17Â years of parcel level data from Saint Louis County, Missouri, that higher than average tax rates increase the time-to-development for vacant parcels by between 4 and 11%, all else equal. Additionally this paper finds that the tax differential effect is cumulative, resulting in about a 20% increase in the time-to-development for the parcel facing the average number of years with a higher than average rate. These results support the analytical results by both Turnbull [Turnbull, G.K., 1988. The effects of local taxes and public services on residential development patterns. Journal of Regional Science, 28 (4), 541-562.] and McMillen [McMillen, D.P., 1990. The timing and duration of development tax rate increases. Journal of Urban Economics, 28, 1-18.] that the property tax can distort residential capital markets leading to inefficient urban growth, or sprawl.
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CEPR Discussion Papers
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