BUSINESS PROPERTY TAX INCENTIVES AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
State and local governments throughout the United States use an extensive array of property tax incentives in their efforts to increase private investment and to stimulate economic development. The nature of these incentives and the extent of their use by state and local government vary across geographic regions and by state economic performance. The purposes of this chapter are to describe and catalog the nature and extent of business property tax incentives and to examine the regional and economic factors that explain interstate variation in their use.
The first section of the chapter provides a description of the types and nature of property tax incentives offered by state and local governments. This information is based on a survey of the fifty states conducted by the author in the summer of 1992. The second section focuses on the differential use by states of property tax incentives by the geographic regions in which they are located and by variation in state economic performance as measured by changes in employment and in gross state product (GSP). In the third section, a summary of the literature on the impact of taxes and tax incentives on economic development is presented. The final section provides conclusions and suggestions for additional research on the subject of the relationship between tax incentives and economic development.
Although the property tax is primarily a local revenue source, state enabling legislation is required to authorize tax exemptions or reductions by the state and/or by local governmental units. A survey by the author of the property tax incentives authorized in the fifty states (as summarized in the appendix to this chapter) revealed a wide array of exemptions and tax forgiveness. However, the similarities in structure and intent of the incentives seemed to permit grouping them, for purposes of analysis, into five broad categories as follows: