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NEWS BYTES
November 1999

Editor: Scott Gottlieb, CPA
Assistant editor: Susan A. Maffetone, CPA

This article is a press release from the Tax Foundation

Property Tax Collections Reach New Heights at State and Local Levels

Washington, D.C. October 29, 1999 -  According to estimates in a new Tax Foundation Special Report, property tax collections will hit an all-time high in 1999.

Local government units including counties, cities, and school districts will collect approximately $221 billion, while state governments collect $11 billion.

The study is "State and Local Property Tax Collections," by economist J. Scott Moody.

Adjusted for inflation, property tax collections have risen steadily since 1950 except during a series of tax revolts in the 1970s made famous by California s Proposition 13. The decline bottomed out in 1981, and property tax collections have grown 69 percent since then.

Local vs. State Property Taxes

In FY 1996, the latest data available, 73 percent of all local tax collections came from property taxes. Coming in a distant second was sales tax revenue (16 percent) followed by income taxes (6 percent).

Table 1 shows local property tax collections by state and ranks those collections on a per capita and per $1,000 of personal income basis. New Jersey localities collected the most per capita ($1,606). Following New Jersey are New Hampshire ($1,531) and Connecticut ($1,425).

In terms of personal income, New Hampshire localities top the list with $59 collected for every $1,000 of personal income. Following New Hampshire are New Jersey ($53) and Vermont ($53).

State-level property taxes are small compared to local collections, and they account for only 2 percent of state revenue. However, they have begun growing more rapidly.

Table 2 shows state property tax collections by state and ranks those collections per capita and per $1,000 of personal income. In per capita terms, six states collect more than $100 in property taxes. By far the largest is Washington with per capita property tax collections of $329. The five next highest states are Montana ($263); Wyoming ($174); Michigan ($169); California ($106); and Kentucky ($106). As a percentage of personal income, only two states collect more than $10 per $1000 of personal income: Montana ($14) and Washington ($14).

The report includes discussions of property tax administration and the process of determining who ultimately bears the tax burden of property taxes.

The Tax Foundation is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that has monitored fiscal policy at the federal, state and local levels since 1937.

 

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