What is Revenue From Property Taxes Usually Used for

What is Revenue From Property Taxes Usually Used for.

State and Local Backgrounders Homepage

A property tax is a tax levied on “real property” (land and buildings, both residential and commercial) or personal property (business equipment, inventories, and noncommercial motor vehicles).

Taxpayers in all 50 states and the District of Columbia pay holding taxes, but the revenue enhancement on real belongings is primarily levied past local governments (cities, counties, and school districts) rather than state governments. With a few exceptions, state property taxes are typically levied on personal property.

  • How much acquirement exercise land and local governments enhance from property taxes?
  • Which states are virtually reliant on property tax revenue?
  • How much exercise property tax rates differ across the country?
  • Farther reading
  • Note

How much revenue exercise land and local governments raise from property taxes?

State and local governments nerveless a combined $577 billion in revenue from holding taxes, or 17 percentage of full general revenue, in 2019. Property tax acquirement equally a percentage of state and local general revenue was higher than full general sales tax acquirement, individual income taxation acquirement, and corporate income tax acquirement in 2019.

Property taxes are a very small source of revenue for states considering states typically tax personal property merely not real holding. (Census does non provide a separate count for each type of property tax.) State governments collected $18 billion from property taxes in 2019, or 1 percent of state general revenue. In dissimilarity, belongings taxes are ane of the largest sources of revenue for local governments. Local governments collected $559 billion in property taxes in 2019, or 30 percent of local general acquirement.

School districts, counties, municipalities, and townships all collect belongings tax acquirement, and it typically accounts for a significant portion of general revenues in those jurisdictions—particularly for school districts. The remaining local regime belongings revenue enhancement revenue is collected by special districts that are specific-purpose units such as h2o and sewer authorities that typically get most of their acquirement from taxes related to those services. (Census only publishes acquirement totals for these levels of government for years catastrophe in 2 and 7.)

Local Holding Tax Revenue, by Level of Government, 2017

Acquirement ($ billions)

Pct of full general revenue

Schoolhouse commune












Special District



Annotation: The Usa Census Bureau only publishes local-level data for years ending in 2 and 7.

Which states are most reliant on property tax revenue?

All states have belongings taxes (at least at the local level). New Hampshire was the almost reliant on property tax revenue in 2019, as the taxation deemed for 36 percent of its combined country and local general revenues. (New Hampshire does not accept a broad-based individual income tax or general sales tax). The next near reliant states were New Jersey (29 percent), Maine (27 percent), and Connecticut (26 percent). Overall, 10 states collected 20 percentage or more of their state and local general revenues from holding taxes in 2019.

Data: View and download each land’south full general revenue by source as a percentage of general revenue

In contrast, Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Kentucky, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and W Virginia collected less than 10 percent of their country and local full general revenue from property taxes.

Property taxes deemed for about half (46 percent) of own-source local general revenue (i.e., excluding transfers from the federal and state government). In Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and Rhode Island, property taxation collections were more than three-quarters of local own-source general revenue  in 2019. In contrast, Alabama’s local governments collected only 21 pct of their own-source revenue from holding taxes, the lowest percentage in whatever state.

At the state level, property taxes accounted for 1 percent of state ain-source general revenue in 2019. However, Vermont’s property taxes contributed 25 pct of its state own-source general acquirement that year, far and away the highest percentage in any country. Nearly all of Vermont’due south education spending is financed at the land level, and the state’south holding revenue enhancement on existent property is the largest source of that funding. The next-highest percentages were in New Hampshire and Washington (9 per centum in both states), in office considering these states besides use property taxes to fund their country-level Thousand-12 education spending.

Holding taxes were also 7 per centum or more of state own-source revenue in Arkansas, Montana, and Wyoming. In addition to business equipment and cars, state personal property taxes are sometimes levied on land that is used for utilities. Fourteen states did not levy a state-level property tax in 2019.

The pct of state and local general revenue from holding taxes in a state reflects several factors, including:

  • the holding revenue enhancement rates in a state’due south local jurisdictions
  • the value of the property in the land
  • the relative amount of tax revenue in the state from other sources

How much do real property tax rates differ across the country?

Real property tax rates differ widely both across and within states, making it hard to compare states confronting each other. Further, local governments use different methods to calculate their real property tax bases and cess levels.

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Every jurisdiction’s belongings tax requires at least 3 steps:

  1. Assess the value of each property in the jurisdiction.
  2. Determine the taxable value of each property.
  3. Apply the tax charge per unit to the taxable value of each property.

The authorities levying the property tax typically assesses the real property value by estimating what the belongings would sell for in an arms-length transaction (that is, a transaction betwixt unrelated parties). However, there are other calculations for assessing a property’southward value. Some jurisdictions base their assessed value on the concluding sale price or acquisition value of the property, the income a belongings could generate (e.g., hotels), or solely on the size or physical attributes (e.one thousand., blueprint or location) of the property. The timing of assessments as well varies, with some jurisdictions assessing annually and others going multiple years between assessments.

Further, some jurisdictions impose their revenue enhancement on the entire assessed value of the belongings while others tax only a fraction of the assessed value. For case, South Carolina counties impose tax on only 4 percent of an owner-occupied property’southward assessed value, while the District of Columbia taxes 100 percent of a property’southward assessed value. Thus, the tax rate in S Carolina counties is higher than the tax charge per unit in the District of Columbia simply that is not an apples-to-apples comparing.

Some local jurisdictions also impose dissimilar tax rates—or classifications—for unlike types of property, most unremarkably distinguishing between residential and business organisation property.

And while property tax rates tin can vary considerably within states, some states impose a statewide limit on the maximum rate.

States and local governments also often use other limits, exemptions, deductions, and credits to lower a real property’south taxable value or the taxpayer’s payment for some or all owners. A few major examples are every bit follows:

  • Cess limits
    foreclose a property’due south assessed value from increasing by more than a fixed percentage betwixt assessments. These limits generally reduce a holding’s assessed value below its bodily market value and thus preclude rapid property value increases from raising the owner’s taxation burden. When the belongings is sold, its assessed value is reset at its marketplace value. Seventeen states and the Commune of Columbia offered some type of limitation on a holding’south assessed value in 2020. The property eligible for an assessment limitation and the adding of the limit (i.east., the percent increase in assessment allowed over a fourth dimension period) varies across states.
  • Homestead deductions or exemptions
    subtract the taxable value of real property by a fixed amount (much the same manner a standard deduction decreases taxable income). While every country has residency requirements for challenge a homestead exemption, some states have further eligibility qualifications based on age, disability, income, or veteran status. Virtually every state and the Commune of Columbia broadly offered some type of homestead exemption or credit in 2018.
  • Circuit billow programs
    provide relief for elderly and low-income residents with property tax liabilities above a specified percentage of their income. Although the revenue enhancement relief is based on property taxation payments, it is typically provided via an individual income revenue enhancement credit. Unlike the other approaches described here, excursion breakers can benefit renters as well equally homeowners in some jurisdictions. 30-three states and the District of Columbia offered some grade of circuit breaker programme in 2020. In eighteen of these states and the Commune of Columbia, renters were eligible for the circuit breaker program.
  • Property revenue enhancement deferrals allow elderly and disabled homeowners to defer payment until the sale of the belongings or the death of the taxpayer. Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia immune such deferrals in 2020, but they are not widely used.
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These relief programs can create significantly unlike taxation burdens inside a jurisdiction even among taxpayers who accept homes of similar vintage and pay the aforementioned taxation charge per unit.

Farther, while these policies tin help individual homeowners reduce their property tax payments, various studies have shown that property tax assessments and appeals outcomes can disproportionately help white homeowners and disproportionally burden Black and Latino households. This can make a locality’due south holding tax organization more than regressive than it appears.

More detailed information on property taxation relief and incentive programs, for all 50 states, tin be found at the Lincoln Found’due south Holding Revenue enhancement Database.

Interactive data tools

Land and Local Finance Data: Exploring the Census of Governments

State Financial Briefs

Farther reading

Significant Features of the Property Revenue enhancement
Lincoln Institute of Land Policy (2018)

Critics Argue The Property Revenue enhancement Is Unfair. Do They Have A Signal?
Tracy Gordon (2020)

The Assessment Gap: Racial Inequalities in Property Taxation
Carlos Avenancio-León and Troup Howard (2020)

What is Revenue From Property Taxes Usually Used for

Source: https://www.urban.org/policy-centers/cross-center-initiatives/state-and-local-finance-initiative/projects/state-and-local-backgrounders/property-taxes

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