H. CLYDE REEVES
The general property tax is an essentially American institution, but not an institution of which we are inclined to boast. It has been condemned as defective in principle and impossible of administration, as long as American economists have been writing in the field of taxation. It has always proved troublesome to government officials. It has been the occasion of widespread taxpayers' strikes in recent years.... Local governments have been increasingly handicapped in their use of this tax by growing exemptions and narrowing rate limits. Yet the general property tax, or some modification of it, remains.... 1
That quotation is from the foreword to a symposium on property taxes published by the Tax Policy League in 1940. Carl Shoup and C. Lowell Harriss wrote papers for that symposium. The titles of the nineteen papers in that volume are remarkably similar to those in the present volume. Since the Tax Policy League's offering, several property-tax symposia, national in scope, have been published; but none has been as neatly replicative as this one. After fortythree years, it is entirely appropriate that a corresponding revaluation should be made.
In 1931, Jensen brought together the extensive but scattered literature and facts about the property tax. 2 Among other things, he pointed out that the property assessments were poorly done; that the state should take a more active leadership role toward improving administration; that assessors should use maps and other modern procedures and tools available to them; and that annual property taxes typically were about 1.5 to 2.5 percent of the value of the property taxed.
During the 1930s the theory of the property tax and the tools for assessment administration were unfolding. Cuthert E. Reeves's working manual for city____________________