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Estimates of the Total Cost and Distribution of Tax Relief Under State Funded Property Tax Circuit Breakers

Adam H. Langley

March 2009, English

This paper uses data from the 2006 American Community Survey to estimate the cost for state governments to fund three hypothetical property tax circuit breaker programs and a homestead exemption. The analysis finds that the circuit breaker programs cost between 5.2 and 7.8 percent of total property tax collections, similar to the cost of a $45,000 homestead exemption (7.6 percent). The two threshold circuit breakers target greater tax relief to the most heavily burdened households, whereas the sliding scale circuit breaker provides smaller benefits to almost all households. The greatest share of benefits is directed to low income households under the multiple threshold circuit breaker program, and all three circuit breakers make the property tax more progressive than under the homestead exemption. The circuit breakers provide median tax cuts between 25 and 100 percent larger than the homestead exemption for homeowners in the bottom quartile of the income distribution.


Housing, Property Taxation, Tax Reform, Taxation