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

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

1
TAXATION OF BUSINESS PROPERTY: OVERVIEW
John H. BowmanIf the forecast made at another National Tax Association conference over thirty-five years ago had been accurate, there would be no reason for this symposium on the taxation of business property. Addressing the 1956 NTA annual conference, George W. Mitchell said, "Over the next two decades, I would expect to see the property tax all but wither away. Further relative decline is a foregone conclusion, but I would go beyond this and predict that in absolute terms property taxation is headed for oblivion" ( Mitchell 1957: 492). Clearly, that has not happened. In 1956, property tax revenue was under $12 billion, and by 1990 it had risen to over $155 billion, representing compound average annual growth of 7.9 percent ( Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations (ACIR) 1992b: Table 56).Business property taxation is an important topic today because property taxation still plays a major role in government finance, and because business property is a large part of all property. Also, several recent and on going developments contribute to the importance of the subject. These include:
Increased responsibility of the state-local level for important domestic services, as the federal government re-evaluates its role;
Increased federal influence on property taxation through legislation such as the 4-R Act and various environmental statutes, as well as court rulings on various matters;
State actions moving the property tax ever further from old standards of uniformity;
Increased concerns about the competitiveness of American business in international markets;
Increased competition among states and localities for business investment and jobs;
Evidence from recent studies suggesting a somewhat greater importance of state-local taxes in business location decisions than previously was thought to be the case; 1
Continuing concern for the quality, or uniformity, of property tax administration;
Technological changes, affecting both the nature of business property and the ability to value it.

Add to these considerations the fact that there has been no recent conference or

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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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