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Introduction to Features of Property Tax Systems

Taxes - General

For local governments across the country, property taxes are the primary source of revenue and play a critical role in providing funding for public education, transportation, law enforcement, health care facilities, and other municipal services. In fiscal year 2016 alone, Americans paid nearly $488 billion in property taxes — roughly 17 percent of all taxes paid. With property taxes representing one of the largest taxes paid by households throughout the country, an understanding of how property tax systems work, and how they impact revenue and spending, is crucial for state and local policy discussions and decisions.

This report provides an overview of the basic features and structures found in property tax systems across the United States. Additionally, the report summarizes and analyzes the property tax systems of Connecticut and several of its regional peer states (Vermont, Massachusetts, Maryland, and Pennsylvania). Each state overview offers a summary of specific components of the respective state’s property tax system, including taxing authorities, property assessment, taxation rates, and tax exemptions and/or relief programs.


Connecticut School Finance Project. (2018). Introduction to Features of Property Tax Systems. New Haven, CT: Author. Retrieved from http://ctstatefinance.org/assets/uploads/images/Features-of-Property-Tax-Systems.pdf.

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