Local Issues, Taxes

Tax Trend: Still Upward

Click to see original imageThe property tax continues to rise in America despite demands for property tax relief and revenue sharing efforts to ease spending pressures on the tax.

Property tax collections in 1974 will total close to $51 billion when the final figures are in, more than twice the nation-wide total only eight years ago, according to Tax Foundation Inc., based in New York.

Property taxes, which vary considerably within as well as among states, averaged $118 per resident nationally in fiscal year 1965 when collections totaled $23.9 billion. In fiscal year 1973 the per capital average was $216 and the total, $47.2 billion.

Utah currently has no state property tax, the 1.60 mills being levied in 1973 having been eliminated in 1964. Other taxing units – cities, counties, school districts, and special taxing units, of course, have property tax levies.

Highest average property taxes per capita in 1973 were in Massachusetts, $358; Connecticut, $3534; California and New Jersey, $348; and New York, $320.

Lowest states were Alabama, $46; Kentucky, $78; Arkansas and Louisiana, $79; and West Virginia, $83. Utah’s per capita property tax in 1973 was $146, compared with $110 in 1965. (the figures are taken by the Tax Foundation from its forthcoming 18th edition of Facts and Figures on Government Finance.)

Through the years the property tax has been a stand-by tax and usually at least three units of government (and sometimes more) tax the same property.

Utah is to be commended for moving to abolish its former state levy on property. It is urged that all units hold the line insofar as possible. While generally considered a “mainstay of local government finance,” the property tax also has received the label of “most disliked tax” in polls and certainly doesn’t encourage home ownership and improvement.