New Online Database Provides Free Access to Wealth of Information on Property Tax

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Lincoln Institute-George Washington joint venture restores federal service ended in 1996

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Significant Features of the Property Tax reflects our mission of providing data and conducting research on state and local fiscal policy

A new online database created by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy and the George Washington Institute of Public Policy provides a wealth of information on local property taxation in all 50 states, restoring a service provided by the federal government until about a decade ago.

The website, which also provides data from the Census of Governments on state and local property taxation, is set to be announced at an event June 8 at 10:30 a.m. EST at The George Washington University, 1957 E St., NW State Room, 7th Floor, Washington, D.C. Foggy Bottom - GWU Metro Station (Orange and Blue lines). Robert Reischauer, president of the Urban Institute and former director of the Congressional Budget Office, will be the keynote speaker.

The online database, in the Resources and Tools section of the Lincoln Institute Web site, is called Significant Features of the Property Tax. The name pays tribute to Significant Features of Fiscal Federalism, a flagship publication of the Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations (ACIR), which was established by Congress in 1959 to study relationships among local, state and national levels of government.

The commission stopped providing the information when it fell victim to budget cuts in 1996 -- to the dismay of journalists, researchers, policymakers, and practitioners, all of whom made heavy use of the data. After a hiatus of more than a decade, the Lincoln Institute and the George Washington Institute of Public Policy have now stepped in to provide the information as a public good and make it available once again to a wide variety of users.

"The online database is part of our continuing commitment to put data on our Web site and make it readily accessible," said Gregory K. Ingram, president of the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, noting that a database on real estate development by universities is already at http://www.lincolninst.edu, soon to be joined by another database on land values in the U.S.

"Significant Features of the Property Tax reflects our mission of providing data and conducting research on state and local fiscal policy," said Hal Wolman, Director of the George Washington Institute of Public Policy.

Significant Features of the Property Tax provides datasets and links relating to the property tax and its role in state and local finance. The Web site allows users interested in a specific state to view the information through state summary tables, while those wishing to compare information across states can generate customized tables for multiple states on a specific topic. The site is organized in these major categories:    

  • General Characteristics of Local Taxation of Property

This section covers real and personal properties that are taxed, basic and differential local property tax rates, local jurisdictions' use of transfer charges when properties change hands, and limits placed by states on local jurisdictions' authority to use the property tax.

  • Property Tax Relief and Incentive Programs

All states have programs that use tax policy to encourage particular land uses, and/or provide property tax relief to selected classes of landowners. Property tax relief programs are grouped according to objectives and/or program structure, such as programs intended to provide relief to homeowners, encourage economic development, and encourage preservation of farmland and open space.

  • Structural Arrangements of Property Assessment

Structural arrangements include the land use types in use in each of the states to characterize the property tax base and the assessment standard used to value that property.

  • Census Data

This section displays statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau's Census of Governments on the property tax in the context of state and local finances. Data for the years 2005, 2002, and 1992 are reported for state and local governments combined, and for state governments and local governments separately. For each year and each set of governments, data are presented for each revenue source in nominal dollars, as a share of all revenues, per capita, and as a percent of personal income.

Significant Features of the Property Tax is the result of a four-year collaboration between the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy and the George Washington Institute of Public Policy. The collaboration will continue and the data will be periodically updated.

About The George Washington Institute of Public Policy: The George Washington Institute of Public Policy is a public policy research institute at George Washington University. The Institute engages in research on a broad range of public policy with a particular focus on state and local fiscal policy, urban policy, and regional economic development.

About the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy: The Lincoln Institute of Land Policy is a leading resource for key issues concerning the use, regulation, and taxation of land. Media contact: Anthony Flint at anthony.flint (at) lincolninst.edu.

Contact: Anthony Flint 617-661-3016 x116

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