In a growing number of states, big-box stores are working to reduce their property taxes by pursuing a “dark store” approach to valuation, in which a store’s value is assessed as if the store were closed (or “dark”) even if it is operating, on the premise that the building would have relatively little value to anyone other than the current store’s operator, and would be difficult to sell.
That’s just one of the many property tax trends explored in the newly updated State-by-State Property Tax at a Glance
, the most thorough online resource for U.S. property tax information for policy makers, researchers, journalists, the real estate industry, and home owners.
Through a visualization tool, set of narratives, and analysis of the latest policy developments, State-by-State Property Tax at a Glance explains how the property tax works in each state plus the District of Columbia. The site incorporates history from the 1700s to the latest laws and regulations, details on the structure and legal underpinnings of each property tax system, and context to convey how the property tax fits within systems of state and local government finance.
The 2018 update of the site, first launched in December 2016, describes the most important new laws and legal cases affecting the property tax, with details for each state.
For example, the Wisconsin state narratives explores the implications of dark store assessment for state taxpayers. It describes how home owners in Wisconsin communities with a high share of retail development could see their property tax increase from 4 to 17 percent if the dark store approach were applied to all commercial assessments, shifting commercial property taxes to home owners, according to the Wisconsin League of Municipalities.
The updated website provides such details in each of the 52 new narratives, written by experts in each state. These narratives tell the unique story of the property tax in each state and the District of Columbia, and also include a national overview.
The website also has a visualization tool that maps 19 variables for each state and Washington, DC. The newly updated data appear in three interactive charts:
Sources of local general revenue: property tax, sales tax, income tax, other tax, state aid, and federal aid;
Selected property tax statistics: per-capita property tax, property tax as a percentage of personal income, total property tax as a percentage of state-local revenue, median owner-occupied home value, and effective tax rate for a median owner-occupied home;
Property tax features: classified system, assessment by county, rate or levy limits, assessment limits, and circuit breaker property tax relief programs.
The website features a glossary that defines more than 130 property tax terms, providing common meanings as well as state-specific definitions. The resources section links users to state documents and independent research.
The charts in the narratives and visualization tool draw heavily from the Significant Features of the Property Tax
database, including the State-by-State Property Tax in Detail tables, which catalog technical property tax data for each state. Significant Features of the Property Tax was developed in partnership with the George Washington Institute of Public Policy.
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