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Property Tax

LVT on the Ballot in New Zealand

New Zealand is suffering many of the same ills that afflict American cities. Tenants facing ever-rising rents, young people and ethnic minorities being priced out of homeownership, widening inequality driven by soaring land values, sprawling cities and congested streets. A long and bitter debate that blamed land use regulations for these problems has largely been won by ‘YIMBYs’, with several waves of upzoning producing a budding building boom for townhouses and apartments. While there are some signs that rents may be easing as a result, these problems are far from solved, and public attention has begun to look for alternative solutions. 

Who Says You Can’t Have a State Property Tax?

Well, okay. Lots of people. One of the crowning strategies to rouse the rabble is to ream the property tax. Fair enough. But in some states like New Jersey, the property tax is unpopular, likely because the property tax is just as high as the state income, business, and sales taxes.

But some states have a lifeline for tax efficiency, equity, and progressivity. Yet because we live in strange times, state governments get the shakes regarding property tax. So instead, they throw themselves upon regressive, volatile, or inefficient taxes. Not surprisingly, these taxes hit parts of society that are powerless or don’t vote.

The property tax can trace its unpopularity to simple (and fixable) quirks in most states: the bill comes due once a year. There are legitimate concerns over what happens to people on a fixed income. The house’s value may go up, but there’s no cash flow to pay for a tax bill that goes up.

Tax Exemption in Roanoke, Virginia

“Statutorily exempt” is the term used to describe owners of land and buildings who, by virtue of their identities, are not required to pay property taxes. Their holdings are still assessed like everyone else’s but no bill is ever generated, despite the fact that they benefit from the same tax-funded amenities (like schools, roads, and public services) as everyone else. So while an organization’s tax exempt status may feel like a foregone conclusion, their savings aren’t actually free. As part of its commitment to transparency in taxation, CPTR explores the specific implications of tax exemptions for cities and towns across the country. This report is focused on the City of Roanoke, VA.

In the State of Virginia, statutorily exempt owners include religious institutions; federal, state, and city entities; public parks and libraries; charities; and more. Using the City’s 2021 tax data, it’s possible to understand exactly how this plays out in Roanoke.