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Talking Tax Reform: Grappling with the New Property Tax Revolt

Presented by:
Jared Walczak Jared Walczak
Manish Bhatt Manish Bhatt

Property taxes are a mainstay of local government finance, but soaring tax burdens have many homeowners clamoring for relief—and in some states, they’re propelling movements to dramatically reduce reliance on property taxes or to eliminate them altogether.

A well-designed property tax is more neutral, transparent, and economically efficient than many other taxes. The property tax corresponds, albeit imperfectly, with the value received by the property owner from local government. Unlike many other taxes, the property tax is very familiar to anyone responsible for paying it and is often remitted in large lump sums. Consequently, the tax generates strong opinions. 

As one of the few revenue generators available to local governments, reforming the property tax is often contentious. Nevertheless, throughout the country, lawmakers are considering reform options, as property owners face surging property values and the prospect of significantly higher property tax burdens. Nationwide, property valuations are up more than 40 percent over the past three years, and if rates aren’t reduced, this results in a sharp tax increase. Taxpayers are rightly asking whether they’re receiving significantly more or better government for their money. Inflation has increased the cost of local government, but it has not increased it to the extent that property owners have seen valuations and spending rise. 

However, many potential replacements for property tax revenue do more economic harm than the tax they replace, and it’s incredibly difficult to get the numbers for property tax abolition to add up. Please join the Tax Foundation’s Jared Walczak and Manish Bhatt on Thursday, April 4, at 2 PM ET as they discuss current issues facing property owners, the benefits and structure of a well-designed property tax, and practical approaches to property tax limitation and reform.

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