Property Taxes

The property tax is the oldest major revenue source for state and local governments. At the beginning of the twentieth century, property taxes represented more than eighty percent of state and local tax revenue. While this share has diminished over time as states have introduced sales and income taxes, the property tax remains an important mechanism for funding education and other local services.  But the property tax is unpopular among many taxpayers, in large part because it affects low- and middle-income families more heavily than the wealthy, and because it does not vary even when a taxpayer’s income drops significantly due to job loss or retirement.  The following resources explain how property taxes work and evaluate a variety of policies used to reduce property taxes in ways that are, at least ostensibly, aimed at remedying these problems.

 

Policy Briefs