Christopher Mayer

Property Tax Limits, Local Fiscal Behavior, and Property Values: Evidence from Massachusetts Under Proposition 2 1/2

Coauthor(s): Katherine Bradbury, Karl Case.

Abstract:
This paper examines the impact of a specific property tax limit, Proposition Image in Massachusetts, on the fiscal behavior of cities and towns in Massachusetts and the capitalization of that behavior into property values. Proposition Image places a cap on the effective property tax rate at 2.5% and limits nominal annual growth in property tax revenues to 2.5%, unless residents pass a referendum allowing a greater increase. The study analyzes the 1990-1994 period, a time when Massachusetts municipalities faced significant fiscal stress because of a 30% cut in real state aid and a demographically driven increase in school enrollments. The findings include the following: (1) Proposition Image significantly constrained local spending in some communities, with most of its impact on school spending; (2) constrained communities realized gains in property values to the degree that they were able to increase school spending despite the limitation; and (3) changes in non-school spending had little impact on property values.

Source: Journal of Public Economics
Exact Citation:
Bradbury, Katherine, Christopher Mayer, and Karl Case. "Property Tax Limits, Local Fiscal Behavior, and Property Values: Evidence from Massachusetts Under Proposition 2 1/2." Journal of Public Economics 80, no. 2 (May 2001): 287-311.
Volume: 80
Number: 2
Pages: 287-311
Date: 5 2001