"Variation" Describes Municipal Tax Structures: Not All Cities Get to Choose Their Preferred Method of Taxation

By Pagano, Michael A. | Nation's Cities Weekly, October 11, 2004 | Go to article overview

"Variation" Describes Municipal Tax Structures: Not All Cities Get to Choose Their Preferred Method of Taxation


Pagano, Michael A., Nation's Cities Weekly


Municipalities in many ways possess revenue structures more diverse than their state and federal counterparts.

When it comes to taxes, municipalities tend to rely on one of three sources--property taxes, sales taxes, or income taxes.

Nearly all municipalities are granted a property tax authority by their states, but authority to tax consumption (sales) or income is not universal.

For example, of the approximately 555 U.S. cities with populations greater than 50,000, roughly 34 percent have access to only the property tax, 8 percent have access to the income tax (in addition to having access to the property tax), and nearly 58 percent have some retail sales-taxing authority.

Besides nearly universal access to the income tax by municipalities in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Kentucky (and 24 or so in Michigan) most other municipalities with an income tax authority tend to be among a state's largest cities (e.g., New York City, Kansas City, St. Louis) and are granted that authority by a special action of the state legislature. …

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