A Good Source for Property Tax Information


Property tax systems vary markedly in the United States. From assessment ratios to valuation standards even the terminology is inconsistently applied. The differences exist not only across states but often within states. In Illinois, for example, real property is assessed at 33.33% of fair cash value for all counties except those with a population of more than 200,000.

Thankfully, keeping track of these differences has been made less difficult with the help of the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy.  The Lincoln Institute of Land Policy is a private operating foundation whose mission is to advance the study of land policy and land related tax policy. The foundation maintains an online database of Significant Features of the Property Tax.

The online database provides information on the property tax systems of all 50 states and the District of Columbia.  Topics tracked include property tax fundamentals, property tax base, property tax relief, and incentive programs. Property tax fundamentals are further divided into property tax rates, tax limits, real estate transfer charges, and legal definitions of property. The property tax base is divided into tax base by property type, value standard, and assessment ratios.

The on-line database is free and allows users to create tables for selected topics. The exportable tables make it easy to compare property tax features across states and years. The resource is useful not only for academics but also for homebuilders interested in quickly comparing property tax systems or builders interested an unfamiliar property tax environment.

A sample of the type of data available is provided by selecting the link below (Significant Features – North Carolina & Texas). It is important to note the that on-line database provides more information including descriptions of residential property tax relief programs, descriptions of tax limits, and statute or tax code.

Significant Features – North Carolina & Texas

Don’t forget that NAHB’s website is also a good source of free property tax information.  After persuading the Census Bureau to include summary property tax statistics in its American Community Survey data base, NAHB regularly uses these data to calculate effective property tax rates in a consistent manner for areas across the country.  NAHB’s August 2011 Special Study, for example, published effective property tax rates for cities and counties.

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