Share of Property Tax Revenue Falls as Income Tax Receipts Grow


NAHB analysis of the Census Bureau’s quarterly tax data shows that $583 billion in taxes were paid by property owners over the four quarters ending in Q2 2018.[1] It has now been nearly six years since the last time four-quarter property tax revenues declined.

After accelerating in the third and fourth quarters of 2017, the four-quarter growth rate of property tax revenue has slowed in each quarter since. Income tax revenues increased at a much faster pace than property tax receipts on a year-over-year basis (see below). Individual (+10.2%) and corporate (9.7%) income tax receipts grew faster than in any quarter since 2015 and 2011, respectively.

Property taxes accounted for 39.5% of state and local tax receipts—the second consecutive quarterly decline and the lowest share since Q1 2016. In terms of the share of total receipts, property taxes are followed by individual income taxes (29.2%), sales taxes (27.3%), and corporate taxes (3.9%).

The reduced share of revenue collections is partly a result of the relatively large surge in individual and corporate tax receipts. The ratio of property tax revenue to total tax revenue from the four sources shown above remains 2.5 percentage points above its pre-housing boom average of 37%.

The share of property tax receipts among the four major tax revenue sources naturally changes with fluctuations in non-property tax collections. Non-property tax receipts including individual income, corporate income, and sales tax revenues, by nature, are much more sensitive to fluctuations in the business cycle and the accompanying changes in consumer spending (affecting sales tax revenues) and job availability (affecting aggregate income). In contrast, property tax collections have proven relatively stable, reflecting the long-run stability of tangible property values as well as the smoothing effects of lagging assessments and annual adjustments. Property tax receipts are the least volatile revenue source, followed by sales taxes, individual income taxes, and corporate income taxes, in order of increasing volatility.[2]

[1] Census data for property tax collections include taxes paid for all real estate assets (as well as personal property), including owner-occupied homes, rental housing, commercial real estate, and agriculture. Owner-occupied and rental housing units combine to make housing’s share the largest among these subgroups.

[2] If the anomalous data from 2009-2010 are excluded, sales tax receipts are the least volatile, followed by property taxes, individual income taxes, and corporate income taxes.

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1 reply

  1. This is an example of classic statistical analysis “speak”. Stating a negative when it is a positive!!!!!

    Your article actually says “Revenues declined” in your second sentence, but your graph shows that property tax revenue continued to increase. Property tax increased, but thankful Personal Income and Corporate income increased so those tax receipts out paced Property Tax increases. So the “percentage” of property tax revenue went down. This to me is a real positive. We want job growth, we want income growth and we want cost of housing to go down a percentage of income.

    So how about your article has a caption of “Income Tax Receipt growth out pace property tax growth as Personal Income and Corporate Income Grow!”

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