Over the past 30 years per pupil property tax expenditures for primary and secondary education have increased by more than 50 percent. Throughout this period, the property tax has been a stable revenue source, contributing, on average, 80 percent of local funding. Can this happy scenario continue in an era of rising popular resistance to the property tax?
The 79th annual conference of the International Association of Assessing Officers opened in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on August 26, with the theme “Navigating the Rapids in Turbulent Times: a Grand Vision.” Lincoln Institute visiting fellow Daphne Kenyon organized and moderated a session on school funding and the property tax which examined “tax swaps” in three states that substituted sales taxes for a portion of school funding.
Alan Dornfest of the Idaho State Tax Commission, Laura Ullrich of Winthrop University in South Carolina, and Ronald C. Fisher of Michigan State University presented case studies of tax swaps in their states. Andrew Reschovsky of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Lincoln Institute visiting fellow provided an overview and analysis of future prospects for revenues for school funding from traditional sources: the property tax, state support, and federal grants. Visiting fellow Sally Powers provided a tour of the property tax database Significant Features of the Property Tax and other resources for property tax officers.
The Lincoln Institute sessions were well attended by assessors from a broad range of states, and continued a tradition at IAAO started many years ago by Jane Malme, who last month retired after decades of service.