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taxes. This translates to 87 percent of counties facing at least one type of limit on their revenue authority through property taxes. These property tax limitations encompass the following manifestations: (1) rate limits, (2) levy limits, (3) assessment limits and (4) tax freezes and rollbacks.


State property tax limitations have expanded extensively since the 1990s. Nearly half (45 percent) of current state caps on county property taxing authority have been enacted or modified since 1990 (See Map 2). Some state limitations on property tax rates date as far back as the late 1800s for counties in states like Ark., Mo., Texas and Wyo. After the 1940s, states moved away from restricting property tax rates and focused on capping property assessment valuations and tax levies. Thirty-eight (38) of the 50 state limitations enacted since the 1970s concerned county property assessment and levy limits. State restrictions on property assessment and property tax revenue growth were enacted as recently as 2012 in Ariz. and N.Y.


PROPERTY TAX RATE RESTRICTIONS: (See Chart 1) The property tax rate is multiplied by the assessed value of a piece of property to determine the amount of property tax owed. Typically, property tax rates are expressed in millage rates, or ‘mills,’ or the dollar amount owed per $1,000 on the property’s assessed value.


CHART 1. Rate Limit


Assessment Limit Levy Limit


Property Tax Freeze


Requirements 5 10 15 20 Number of States


Source: NACo interviews with state associations of counties and state and county officials in each of the 48 states with county governments, research of state statutes, tax codes and local government finance literature.


PROPERTY TAX RATE LIMITS. Most states restrict counties’ ability to raise the rate of property taxes (See Map 3). Restrictions on counties’ authority to set property tax rates affect counties in 35 states. In seven of these states (Ala., Alaska, Ariz., Ark., Ind., N.H., Ore., Vt., Wyo.), counties cannot exceed these statutory property tax rate limits under any circumstance.910


Seventeen (17) states with statutory tax rate limits allow


the caps to be exceeded by voter approval only. In another four states (Iowa, Okla., Pa. and S.C.), counties may exceed property tax rate limits by board resolution. Counties in Calif., Key., N.M., Texas and Utah do not require either board resolution or voter approval to exceed these limits.


25 30 35 Disclosure PROPERTY TAX LIMITATIONS: DIVERSE AND WIDESPREAD


NATIONAL ASSOCIATION of COUNTIES | NOVEMBER 2016 COUNTY LINES, SPRING 2017


9 61


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