Evaluation of Real Property Tax Abatements in Franklin County, Ohio
Update: An extension to this analysis was published in Economic Development Quarterly in 2020. Online appendices for that article are available here.
This document presents the results of an evaluation of property tax abatements granted by local governments in Franklin County, Ohio, one of the most populous counties in the United States. The two types of property tax abatements analyzed, Community Reinvestment Areas (CRAs) and Enterprise Zones (EZs), accounted for $65 million in property tax revenue forgone in 2015. The evaluation found that CRAs and EZs had a modestly beneficial effect. For example, results of multiple regression analysis imply that increasing the percent of a school district’s market value subject to property tax abatement from 2 percent to 3 percent would result in an $11 reduction in the annual tax bill for a $100,000 residential property. Furthermore, an analysis of data from Tax Incentive Review Council meetings in 2015–16 showed that at least two thirds of companies receiving abatements were meeting their promises for new full-time jobs, retained full-time jobs, new payroll, and investment. However, the evaluation found that the county fell short on transparency of information about property tax abatements. Ohio state agencies, Franklin County, and local governments in Franklin County provide general program information as well as information about program outcomes, but meaningful data on the cost of these abatements, in terms of forgone revenue, are more elusive.