Property Tax Post: Year in Review—Hot Property Tax Topics in 2015

Let’s take a stroll down memory lane and follow up on a few property tax highlights from 2015. The list is not inclusive of everything that happened this year, but here are a few of the most talked about property tax happenings. I think this is a pretty good compilation, so here goes….

1. Tax Revenue from the Keystone XL Pipeline Project- BBNA’s Michael Kerman discussed the heavy debate over the Keystone XL Pipeline Project following President Obama’s State of the Union address in January. The State Department reported that property tax revenue was estimated to be $55.6 million to spread across 27 counties in Montana, Nebraska, and South Dakota and 17 of those 27 counties would see a spike in property tax revenue of 10 percent or more.

2. Valuation of Big Box Retail Stores-The tax community was all abuzz over how to value big-box retail stores and other large commercial properties. BBNA’s Ryan J. Voorhees’ blog post in April covered the “dark-store theory” and Indiana S.B. 436 which effectively eliminates the market value approach as an assessment option for first-generation, built-to-suit, commercial big-box properties.

3. Food Deserts- Creating and maintaining healthy eating habits always tops the list for New Year’s resolutions. The Maryland Legislature enacted S.B. 541 which authorizes the Mayor and City Council of Baltimore City to grant a property tax credit to supermarkets located in urban neighborhoods and rural towns without ready access to fresh, healthy, and affordable food. Check out the original post.

4. Energy Efficiency for Homeowners-The FHA provided guidelines in August that will support borrowers seeking to make energy efficient improvements to their homes. BBNA’S George Lynch discussed how jurisdictions with PACE programs are able to use revenue from bond sales to pay the upfront costs for clean energy or energy efficiency improvements, such as rooftop panels and insulation, and the homeowners repay the loans with an assessment tacked onto their property tax bill. 

5. Tax Burden Shifts from Property to Sales and Income- In November, Pennsylvania Legislators made big moves with Senate Bill 76. The bill was designed to eliminate billions in school property taxes and replace the money by increased sales and income tax. However, the bill was narrowly rejected by one vote. We haven’t heard the last of this one.  The bill could re-emerge next year as proponents maintain that Pennsylvania taxpayers are losing their homes because of the state’s burdensome property tax system.

These are just a few of the many heavily debated and controversial property tax issues of 2015. I am looking forward to another year of stuff to blog about. Don’t forget to pay your property tax by December 31 and have a Happy New Year.  See you in 2016 everybody.

Continue the discussion on LinkedIn: What property tax highlight would you add to the list?

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By Cynthia N. Wells