The Property Tax and Local Finance

By C. Lowell Harriss | Go to book overview

Circuit-breakers and
Other Relief Measures

STEVEN D. GOLD

An important development during the past fifteen years has been the proliferation and expansion of state property-tax relief programs for homeowners and renters. Previously, most states had no programs except for some veterans; the programs that did exist were generally restricted to homeowners and were often only for senior citizens. Currently, every state has at least one relief program. While low-income households and senior citizens usually receive preferential treatment, in most states nonelderly households of all income levels are eligible for some form of relief. 1

This essay describes the various types of relief that are provided, summarizes their recent history, discusses their effects, and speculates on future developments. While circuit-breakers have received more attention in academic literature than other forms of residential property-tax relief, other exemptions and credits for homeowners are actually more widespread and quantitatively significant. These exemptions and credits will be discussed along with circuit‐ breakers, as will renter credits and deferral programs. Homeowners have benefited from other forms of property-tax relief, such as classification, but those programs are discussed elsewhere in this volume. 2


Description of Relief Mechanisms

The major forms of residential property-tax relief are circuit-breakers, exemptions and credits for homeowners, credits for renters, and deferral programs.

____________________
1
This essay draws on previous work by the author on this subject, in particular Steven D. Gold, Property Tax Relief (Lexington, Mass.: D.C. Heath, 1979); "Homeowner Property Taxes, Inflation, and Property Tax Relief," National Tax Journal 34 (June 1981): 167-84; and "The Changing Shape of Property Tax Relief Since the Late 1960's" (Denver: National Conference of State Legislatures, 1982).
2
See the essay by Arthur C. Roemer, pp. 108-22.

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