A Deep Dive into Property Taxes

Joan Youngman, senior fellow and chair of the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy’s Department of Valuation and Taxation, recently wrote a book covering property taxes in depth. In A Good Tax: Legal and Policy Issues for the Property Tax in the United States, Youngman defends property taxes as a more powerful revenue source than the federal income tax (generating $472 million and $297 million, respectively, from 2005 to 2015) and a vital support for independent local government.

Youngman argues that property taxes should be stable, efficient, fair, and transparent to maintain their status as a “good” tax. Limits on property tax assessment, such as the limit created by Proposition 13, generate problematic consequences, like rewarding longtime property owners at the expense of recent purchasers.

Proposed changes for Proposition 13 are at least being discussed. One source with good ideas is the Better Institutions blog. Will the ideas of Youngman and Better Institutions find open ears in Sacramento?

RSG can help you to analyze the impact of new legislation. Contact us for more details.

Written by Dima Galkin, an Associate at RSG


Controlling Mosquito Populations

Your property taxes include an assessment to fund pest and vector control services in the form of an abatement district, which is meant to fund the prevention, mitigation, and control of some type of pest or hazard. Mosquito abatement districts are public agencies that serve communities through controlling and preventing mosquitoes. To finance mosquito control and surveillance efforts, mosquito abatement districts charge an annual service fee to all non-exempt land parcels in a service area, billed on the property tax bill. 

RSG performs property tax calculations for counties and abatement districts. We provide them with projections that inform budgets and determine the level of service they can provide.

Mosquito abatement districts were created in response to public health concerns about the mosquito as a carrier of disease. Today, mosquito-borne illnesses include malaria, dengue fever, West Nile Virus, chikungunya, multiple forms of encephalitis, and Zika fever, among others.

In addition to the protection from mosquito abatement districts, people can help to control mosquito populations. Residents can reduce their risk of mosquito-borne disease by eliminating breeding sources around their homes and taking other precautions. Residents can reduce breeding by eliminating standing water around their yard. Property owners should maintain ponds and pools with adequate filtration and chemical additives.

Written by Evanne Holloway, an Analyst at RSG