The property tax and urban problems
Kipp, Roger William
Cannady, William T.
Master of Architecture
The intent of this study is to show that the American property tax, the chief urban tax revenue producing institution, contributes significantly to a number of contemporary urban problems. Further, that this is the case despite the existence of viable alternatives and reforms to the present property tax system, which if enacted could actually encourage solutions to these urban problems. The negative effects of the property tax are found to be concentrated in three main areas of the tax and its operation: taxing jurisdictions, the tax on improvements, and property tax assessment. Fragmented urban taxing jurisdictions adversely effect both central city fiscal problems, as well as urban area land use decisions. The heavy taxation of improvements negatively effects urban housing and renewal in our metropolitan areas. The lack of uniformity in property tax assessment which deprives communities of additional services, is in direct conflict with most state constitutions, and effects the stability of land, especially at the urban fringe. The first section of this paper describes the American property tax and establishes a background for the above mentioned tri-part analysis of the effects of the tax on urban problems. The concluding section summarizes the negative effects of the American property tax in the urban situation and, in addition, shows the existence of a number of workable alternatives and basic reforms to the present tax system, which could convert the property tax into a fiscal institution that would promoted solutions to urban problems instead of being part of their cause.