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Political Costs And Fiscal Benefits: The Political Economy Of Residential Property Value Assessment

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Executive Summary

In many American states and municipalities, property taxes are the primary means of raising government revenues. Unlike sales or income taxes, however, property taxes have a significant element of subjectivity - the assessed value of the property being taxed. Given this subjectivity, there exists the possibility of political and fiscal incentives entering into property value assessment. The authors examine the determinants of assessed property value growth in a panel of 351 Massachusetts municipalities from 1995 to 2009. They hypothesize that the year to year growth of assessed value is in part determined by the municipality's fiscal condition, the availability of alternative revenue sources, and whether the municipality's property assessor is directly elected or appointed by an elected official.

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