Monday, February 16, 2009

Is the property tax regressive of progressive?

It seems an undebatable fact that the property tax is a long-standing reliable revenue source for the local government. However, the feature of regressive or progressive of the property tax is rather controversial. According to the traditional view, the property tax aims to tax on the housing consumption, the increase of property tax will impose a greater burden on low-income homeowners. So it is considered regressive. The second view is from the benefit perspective which assumed the property tax is just a kind of user charge for the matched service without capital mobility. This “benefit tax” makes the measurement of regressivity or progressivity meaningless. While along with the view of “capital tax”, the property tax is treated as a tax with broad base and emphasizes more on capital ownership that consumption or user charge that is more progressive than previously belief. In a further place, the different relationship between property tax rate and community income among different jurisdictions can generate either regressive or progressive result. For example high-income state with high property tax rate will result in progressive burden, and low-income city with high property tax rate could have a regressive result. I think this finding is helpful to understand that the issue of regressive or progressive is more likely derived from and associated with political factors in the process of policy-making than the property tax per se. it also illustrated that since the property tax has a potential spectrum which includes regressive and progressive result, it leaves more space for politicians to excise and adjust the tax and spending system.

Fisher, Ronald. (2007). State and Local Public Finance (3e). South-Western College Publishing
Hovey, Hal. (1996). The Property Tax in the 21st Century. Education Resources Information Center


  1. Julia, I really like the two articles that are linked to your post!

  2. Thank you for sharing. This article is very helpful and Inspirational. Excellent!

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