Taxation of Business Property: Is Uniformity Still a Valid Norm?

By John H. Bowman; Frederick D. Stocker | Go to book overview

Table 5.1
The Cycle of Property Tax Administrative Reform
Cycle Stage Characteristic Cycle Elements
Initial state Minimize political stress by infrequent reassessment. Reappraise
property of those lacking political access. Raise tax rates, rather
than assessed value.
Stress Triggering event(s) calls attention to non-uniformities. Organized
groups lobby, protest to legislature, and threaten legal action.
Reform Legislation to improve administration and measures to ameliorate
expected political stress adopted. Result is improved
administration. Attempts to ameliorate stress only partly
successful.
Reaction Aggrieved taxpayers lobby, threaten electoral retaliation, and
threaten lawsuits.
Modification Attempt to ameliorate stress by repealing some administrative
reforms, further limiting property tax change, and changing
government structure.
Quiescence Gradual decline in political stress occurs. Some administrative
improvements persist. Tendency to return to initial state.
Source: Author.

Classification systems are evidence of de jure departures from the uniformity principle. The poor quality of assessment, described in other chapters of this volume, is evidence of de facto departures from uniformity. There are also a wide variety of statutory exemptions or special provisions with the announced purpose of encouraging economic growth. The effect of these provisions upon the taxation of business property is often the reverse of classification. Classification favors residential property because there are many voting homeowners. Economic development exemptions often favor business property because these exemptions are usually granted in a legislative setting in which lobbying power, rather than electoral strength, is important.


SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS

Does this broad general analysis of political systems and the history of the property tax have any utility to those concerned with the taxation of business property? I think it does. It warns that tax reform is a complicated matter. Demands upon the political system may produce changes that have far-reaching effects upon the political system itself and upon the environment that encompasses the political system.

-89-

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Taxation of Business Property: Is Uniformity Still a Valid Norm?
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Tables vii
  • Foreword xi
  • 1: Taxation of Business Property Overview 1
  • Conclusion 21
  • 2: Perspectives on the Business Property Tax Base 25
  • Conclusions 43
  • Notes 43
  • 3: Emerging Legal Issues: Valuation and Expenditures Limitations, Toxic Waste Impacts, and Intangibles Valuation 45
  • Conclusion 61
  • Notes 62
  • 4: Uniformity as a Policy Objective 63
  • 5: Uniformity in the Context of Other Concerns 77
  • Conclusions 89
  • Notes 91
  • 6: Enforcement of Uniformity 93
  • Notes 109
  • 7: Business Property Tax Incentives and Economic Development 111
  • Appendix 7 Business Property Tax Incentives by State, 1992 124
  • 8: Special Problems in the Valuation of Business Property 139
  • Conclusion 149
  • 9: Tax Valuation of Contaminated Property 151
  • Conclusions 158
  • 10: Selected Business Property Taxation Issues: Personal Property 161
  • Notes 169
  • 11: Future Directions for Business Property Taxation 171
  • Notes 182
  • References 185
  • Index 195
  • CONTRIBUTORS 203
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