IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/tul/wpaper/1215.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Rethinking Local Government Reliance on the Property Tax

Author

Listed:
  • James Alm

    () (Department of Economics, Tulane University)

  • Robert D. Buschman

    () (Fiscal Research Center, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University)

  • David L. Sjoquist

    () (Economics Department, Georgia State University)

Abstract

Historically, local governments in the United States have relied on the property tax as one of their main sources of own-source revenues. However, the recent collapse of housing prices and the resulting negative impact on local government budgets suggest that it may be opportune to rethink this strategy. In this paper we document the overall decline in property values in the United States in recent years, and we find that the impact is in the aggregate negative but that the impact varies significantly by state and by locality. We also examine the impact on local government revenues, and we again find substantial regional and local variation. Indeed, our data indicate that substantial numbers of local governments seem to have avoided the significant and negative budgetary impacts seen most clearly for state and federal governments, at least to date. We then focus specifically on the State of Georgia, in order to determine the ways in which local governments have responded to the economic recession. Our empirical analyses indicates that there are several factors causing changes in property tax revenues, but the dominant factor is changes in housing prices, with some significant lags. We conclude that local government reliance on the property tax has in fact been an advantage for many local governments in the current economic environment, and that such reliance is likely to continue in at least some form for the immediate future.

Suggested Citation

  • James Alm & Robert D. Buschman & David L. Sjoquist, 2012. "Rethinking Local Government Reliance on the Property Tax," Working Papers 1215, Tulane University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:tul:wpaper:1215
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://repec.tulane.edu/RePEc/pdf/tul1215.pdf
    File Function: First Version, 2012
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Orazio Attanasio & Laura Blow & Robert Hamilton & Andrew Leicester, 2005. "Consumption, house prices and expectations," Bank of England working papers 271, Bank of England.
    2. Campbell, John Y. & Cocco, Joao F., 2007. "How do house prices affect consumption? Evidence from micro data," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(3), pages 591-621, April.
    3. Bostic, Raphael & Gabriel, Stuart & Painter, Gary, 2009. "Housing wealth, financial wealth, and consumption: New evidence from micro data," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 79-89, January.
    4. O'Sullivan,Arthur & Sexton,Terri A. & Sheffrin,Steven M., 2007. "Property Taxes and Tax Revolts," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521035996, Fall.
    5. Pat McAllister & Andrew Baum & Neil Crosby & Paul Gallimore & Adelaide Gray, 2003. "Appraiser behaviour and appraisal smoothing: some qualitative and quantitative evidence," Journal of Property Research, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 20(3), pages 261-280, January.
    6. Dye, Richard F. & McGuire, Therese J. & McMillen, Daniel P., 2005. "Are Property Tax Limitations More Binding Over Time?," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association;National Tax Journal, vol. 58(2), pages 215-225, June.
    7. Roger H. Gordon, 1983. "An Optimal Taxation Approach to Fiscal Federalism," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 98(4), pages 567-586.
    8. Cutler, David M. & Elmendorf, Douglas W. & Zeckhauser, Richard, 1999. "Restraining the Leviathan: property tax limitation in Massachusetts," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 71(3), pages 313-334, March.
    9. Lutz, Byron & Molloy, Raven & Shan, Hui, 2011. "The housing crisis and state and local government tax revenue: Five channels," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(4), pages 306-319, July.
    10. Preston, Anne E. & Ichniowski, Casey, 1991. "A National Perspective on the Nature and Effects of the Local Property Tax Revolt, 1976-1986," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association;National Tax Journal, vol. 44(2), pages 123-145, June.
    11. Orazio P. Attanasio & Laura Blow & Robert Hamilton & Andrew Leicester, 2009. "Booms and Busts: Consumption, House Prices and Expectations," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 76(301), pages 20-50, February.
    12. Doerner, William M. & Ihlanfeldt, Keith R., 2011. "House prices and city revenues," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(4), pages 332-342, July.
    13. Dye, Richard F. & McGuire, Therese J., 1997. "The effect of property tax limitation measures on local government fiscal behavior," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 66(3), pages 469-487, December.
    14. Gentry, William M. & Ladd, Helen F., 1994. "State Tax Structure and Multiple Policy Objectives," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 47(4), pages 747-72, December.
    15. Hettich,Walter & Winer,Stanley L., 2005. "Democratic Choice and Taxation," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521021807, Fall.
    16. Quan, Daniel C & Quigley, John M, 1991. "Price Formation and the Appraisal Function in Real Estate Markets," The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, Springer, vol. 4(2), pages 127-146, June.
    17. Anderson, Nathan B., 2006. "Property Tax Limitations: An Interpretative Review," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association;National Tax Journal, vol. 59(3), pages 685-694, September.
    18. Mieszkowski, Peter & Zodrow, George R, 1989. "Taxation and the Tiebout Model: The Differential Effects of Head Taxes, Taxes on Land Rents, and Property Taxes," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 27(3), pages 1098-1146, September.
    19. William Hoyt & Paul A. Coomes & Amelia M. Biehl, 2009. "Tax Limits, Houses, and Schools: Seemingly Unrelated and Offsetting Effects," Working Papers 2009-03, University of Kentucky, Institute for Federalism and Intergovernmental Relations.
    20. Julian Diaz III, 1990. "How Appraisers Do Their Work: A Test of the Appraisal Process and the Development of a Descriptive Model," Journal of Real Estate Research, American Real Estate Society, vol. 5(1), pages 1-16.
    21. Cornia, Gary C. & Walters, Lawrence C., 2006. "Full Disclosure: Controlling Property Tax Increases During Periods of Increasing Housing Values," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association;National Tax Journal, vol. 59(3), pages 735-749, September.
    22. Gentry, William M. & Ladd, Helen F., 1994. "State Tax Structure and Multiple Policy Objectives," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association;National Tax Journal, vol. 47(4), pages 747-772, December.
    23. Dye, Richard F. & McMillen, Daniel P. & Merriman, David F., 2006. "Illinois' Response to Rising Residential Property Values: An Assessment Growth Cap in Cook County," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association;National Tax Journal, vol. 59(3), pages 707-716, September.
    24. Zodrow, George R., 2001. "The Property Tax as a Capital Tax: A Room With Three Views," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association;National Tax Journal, vol. 54(1), pages 139-156, March.
    25. Marvin L. Wolverton & Paul Gallimore, 1999. "Client Feedback and the Role of the Appraiser," Journal of Real Estate Research, American Real Estate Society, vol. 18(3), pages 415-432.
    26. Zodrow, George R., 2001. "The Property Tax as a Capital Tax: A Room with Three Views," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 54(n. 1), pages 139-56, March.
    27. Byron F. Lutz, 2008. "The connection between house price appreciation and property tax revenues," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2008-48, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    28. Lutz, Byron F., 2008. "The Connection Between House Price Appreciation and Property Tax Revenues," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association;National Tax Journal, vol. 61(3), pages 555-572, September.
    29. Skidmore, Mark & Scorsone, Eric, 2011. "Causes and consequences of fiscal stress in Michigan cities," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(4), pages 360-371, July.
    30. Wallin, Bruce & Zabel, Jeffrey, 2011. "Property tax limitations and local fiscal conditions: The impact of Proposition 2½ in Massachusetts," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(4), pages 382-393, July.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Geoffrey Propheter & Megan E. Hatch, 2015. "Evaluating Parking Monetization as a Strategy for Subsidizing Major League Sports Facilities," Growth and Change, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 46(1), pages 1-15, March.
    2. Justin Ross & Wenli Yan & Craig Johnson, 2015. "The Public Financing Of America'S Largest Cities: A Study Of City Financial Records In The Wake Of The Great Recession," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 55(1), pages 113-138, January.
    3. Zodrow, George R., 2014. "Intrajurisdictional capitalization and the incidence of the property tax," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 57-66.
    4. Agnese Sacchi & Simone Salotti, 2017. "The influence of decentralized taxes and intergovernmental grants on local spending volatility," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 51(4), pages 507-522, April.
    5. Ihlanfeldt, Keith R. & Willardsen, Kevin, 2014. "The millage rate offset and property tax revenue stability," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 167-176.
    6. James Alm, 2017. "Is Economics Useful for Public Policy?," Working Papers 1702, Tulane University, Department of Economics.
    7. Jian Chen & David H. Downs, 2013. "Property Tax and Tenure Choice: Implications for China," International Real Estate Review, Asian Real Estate Society, vol. 16(3), pages 323-343.
    8. Anderson, Nathan B., 2012. "Market value assessment and idiosyncratic tax-price risk: Understanding the consequences of alternative definitions of the property tax base," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(4), pages 545-560.
    9. Alm, James & Buschman, Robert D. & Sjoquist, David L., 2014. "Foreclosures and local government revenues from the property tax: The case of Georgia school districts," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 1-11.
    10. Razvan Vlaicu & Alexander Whalley, 2011. "Do housing bubbles generate fiscal bubbles?," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 149(1), pages 89-108, October.
    11. James Alm & J. Sebastian Leguizamon, 2018. "The Housing Crisis, Foreclosures, and Local Tax Revenues," Working Papers 1803, Tulane University, Department of Economics.
    12. Tom Downes & Kieran M. Killeen, 2014. "So Slow to Change: The Limited Growth of Nontax Revenues in Public Education Finance, 1991–2010," Education Finance and Policy, MIT Press, vol. 9(4), pages 567-599, October.
    13. James Alm & Robert D. Buschman & David L. Sjoquist, 2013. "How did foreclosures affect property values in Georgia School Districts?," Working Papers 1308, Tulane University, Department of Economics.
    14. Solé-Ollé, Albert & Viladecans-Marsal, Elisabet, 2017. "Housing booms and busts and local fiscal policy," ZEW Discussion Papers 17-001, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
    15. Joshua Hall & Antonis Koumpias, 2015. "The Volatility of School District Income Tax Revenues: Is Tax Base Diversification a Good Idea?," Working Papers 15-14, Department of Economics, West Virginia University.
    16. Doerner, William M. & Ihlanfeldt, Keith R., 2011. "House prices and city revenues," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(4), pages 332-342, July.
    17. Tom Downes & Keiran M. Killeen, 2014. "So Slow to Change: The Limited Growth of Non-Tax Revenues in Public Education Finance, 1991-2010," Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University 0784, Department of Economics, Tufts University.
    18. Chernick, Howard & Langley, Adam & Reschovsky, Andrew, 2011. "The impact of the Great Recession and the housing crisis on the financing of America's largest cities," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(4), pages 372-381, July.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    property tax; state and local finance; tax limitations; assessment; tax base elasticity;

    JEL classification:

    • H2 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue
    • H7 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations
    • R3 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Real Estate Markets, Spatial Production Analysis, and Firm Location
    • R5 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Regional Government Analysis

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:tul:wpaper:1215. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Yang Wang). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/detulus.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.