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Taxes, Justice, and Property: Bits and Bobs

How can we tell the difference between reality and fluff when it comes to surveys and public discourse? At the Center for Property Tax Reform, we believe that keeping surveys up to date on the monstrosities and brilliant ideas (and everywhere in between) now thrown up into public and governmental discourse.

CPTR, by definition, does it all: tax studies, geographic analysis, cause and effect analysis, and unequal treatment by tax systems and assessment valuations.

In this article, we examine events occurring all across the United States and around the world. Our philosophical underpinnings in the economics of land, labor, and capital give CPTR a unique opportunity to explore alternatives to the either/or choices too often presented.


From our perspective, Boston has it’s act together in many ways. Outside of Texas, Boston relies to a notable degree on the property tax for its revenue, nearly 73% for FY 22.  We’ll address the hefty excise taxes and personal property taxes that cloud the economy in a future article.

Because Boston is top-heavy with tax-exempt parcels (museums, government buildings, hospitals, and more colleges than you can shake a stick at), they are worth a lot of money.

Although it appears Boston will avoid most of the fiscal landmines planted by Covid 19 and neighborhood organizations local elected officials are starting to float the option of strengthening Boston’s PILOT program to shake the money tree harder.  Brand-new Boston Mayor Kim Janey wants to update the valuations of exempt properties for the first time since 2010. It’s a worthwhile pursuit, mainly since much of the voluntary PILOT payment includes potential credits for “community benefits.” That’s highfalutin’ speak for “look at what we do for you, cut us a break on this pittance we pay.”

Tax exempts are a big issue, even in the relative splendid isolation of Boston. Here are the top 20 tax-exempt landowners in Boston[1]:

Tax exemption is a privilege, not a right. Even if you can make a moral argument that the buildings fulfill the charitable mission, the land’s value below them is the community’s. Don’t believe it?  We do.  The public should get that rent!


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