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Center for Policy Research

Property Tax Web Series

A New Look at Property Tax Incidence Across Local Governments

John Yinger

September 2021


Drawing on the literature on local government fiscal health, this paper argues that standard incidence approaches are not appropriate because local governments are able to set their own property tax rates.

As an alternative, this paper develops the concept of a fiscal burden for jurisdictions with given a finance system, such as the system for funding local education, which relies heavily on the property tax.

A local government’s fiscal burden is the revenue that it must raise to fund a selected level of local public services after accounting for educational costs, state aid, state-funded property tax relief, and tax exporting.

This concept is applied to the education finance system in New York State in 2011. This system is shown to be mildly regressive and to be characterized by extensive horizontal inequity.

This paper was presented by John Yinger on September 3, 2021 as part of the 2021-2022 Syracuse Webinar Series on Property Tax Administration and Design.

This Syracuse-Chicago Webinar Series on Property Tax Administration and Design aims to gather insight and scholarship through domestic and international comparative studies with common threads to help reform and improve property tax administration and design in the U.S. and other countries facing similar problems.

For questions about the webinars, please contact Zia Jackson. For questions about this paper, please contact the author or authors.

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