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New Online Resource: State-by-State Property Tax at a Glance

Friday, December 2, 2016

For immediate release
Contact: Anthony Flint anthony.flint@lincolninst.edu 617-503-2116

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (December 2, 2016) – The Lincoln Institute of Land Policy has expanded its property tax resources for policymakers, policy analysts, public finance students, journalists, and homeowners with its release of the new State-by-State Property Tax at a Glance narratives and visualization tool.

“This new “on-ramp” will provide easy access to our wealth of information about the property tax,” said Joan Youngman, senior fellow and chair of the Department of Valuation and Taxation.

The visualization tool, with interactive map and charts, is a new addition to the Lincoln Institute’s longstanding database, Significant Features of the Property Tax, and illustrates the great variety across states in the ways they use the property tax. The Property Tax at a Glance narratives, drafted by experts in each state, tell the unique story of the property tax in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. The Property Tax at a Glance glossary defines over 130 property tax terms providing common meanings as well as state-specific definitions. The resources section links users to state documents and independent research.

The interactive online tool can be used by a policymaker who wants to know which states place limits on property tax rates or property tax levies. In two clicks, the user can see that all but six states limit property tax rates or levies, and that three of those six states are in the New England region, as shown above.

With access to the Property Tax at a Glance narratives, a homeowner thinking about relocating to Florida and unfamiliar with “Save Our Homes,” can quickly learn how this unusual and complex assessment limit works and gain access to additional resources for further information. Journalists looking to compare per capita property taxes among the New England states can use the interactive chart to find data quickly, and also get a bird’s eye view of per capita property tax burden across the U.S., as shown below.

Currently featuring data for 2013, the visualization tool maps 19 variables for each state and DC. The State-by-State Property Tax at a Glance Visualization Tool will be updated annually with 2014 data set for release in 2017. The data, which come primarily from Significant Features of the Property Tax databases, also appear in three interactive charts: 

  • Sources of local general revenue: property tax, sales tax, income tax, other tax, state aid, and federal aid
  • Selected property tax statistics (including common measures of property tax burden): per capita property tax, property tax as a percentage of personal income, total property tax as a percentage of state-local revenue, median owner-occupied home value, and effective tax rate for a median owner-occupied home
  • Property tax features: classified system, assessment by county, rate or levy limits, assessment limits, and circuit breaker property tax relief programs

In undertaking this initiative, the Lincoln Institute cultivated a network of state experts who served as advisors or authors of the Property Tax at a Glance narratives. Each state narrative covers state property tax highlights, property tax reliance, property tax administration and assessment, limits on property taxation, property tax relief and incentives, key property tax history, and recent developments.  The narratives, which are integrated with the visualization tool, are also available as stand-alone reports as pdf downloads. Taken together, these reports form a complete volume on the property tax systems in the U.S. for a given year.

The State-by-State Property Tax at a Glance narratives and visualization tool compliment and showcase other tax department resources. The charts in the narratives and visualization tools rely heavily on the Significant Features of the Property Tax database, including the State-by-State Property Tax in Detail tables which catalog technical property tax data for each state. The project also relies on the 50-State Property Tax Comparison Study, an annual joint publication of the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy and Minnesota Center for Fiscal Excellence.

Significant Features of the Property Tax presents data for 2006 through 2014 on the property tax in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Because accurate data provide the critical foundation for sound governmental decision-making, the Lincoln Institute and the George Washington Institute of Public Policy joined in a partnership to provide information and support public policy concerning the property tax.

The Lincoln Institute of Land Policy is an independent, nonpartisan organization whose mission is to help solve global economic, social, and environmental challenges to improve the quality of life through creative approaches to the use, taxation, and stewardship of land.

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