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Tax Policy 101, Part 2: Sales, Property, and Other Taxes

Presented by:
Jared Walczak Jared Walczak
Janelle Cammenga Janelle Cammenga

In the second part of our overview of major state and local taxes, we tackle sales and excise taxes, property taxes, severance taxes, and other forms of state and local tax revenue.

Ask an economist what the sales tax should look like and you’ll almost certainly be told that an ideal sales tax falls on all final consumption, both goods and services, while excluding intermediate transactions to avoid what is known as tax pyramiding, where the same final sale has the tax embedded multiple times over. Ask any state revenue official what your state’s actual sales tax looks like and you will receive a radically different answer.

In this session, we will discuss states’ different approaches to defining the sales tax base, and where there is room for reform. We will also explore local sales tax authority, how services are sourced for tax purposes, and how states have responded to the Wayfair court decision on the taxation of remote sales. We will discuss the design of marketplace facilitator laws, which require sales platforms to remit on behalf of their sellers, and look at some of the complexities that have arisen under these laws.

We will also tackle property taxes, both real (land) and personal (machinery and equipment, etc.), talking about assessments, split roll taxation, and other structural issues. We will also explore the merits and demerits of different state approaches to mitigating property tax burdens, either through property tax limitations or through tax swaps. And we’ll discuss the different approaches to severance taxes, and the basic theory of excise taxation, all in an informative one-hour session.

Areas of Focus

  1. Sales tax bases, the taxation of remote sellers, and local option sales tax regimes
  2. Property tax classifications, assessments, swaps, and limitation regimes
  3. Severance tax structure and approaches

Sessions Resources