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Is Progressive Property Tax Progressive?

Evidences from São Paulo

Ciro Biderman and Yuri Camara Batista

February 2018, English

This paper uses an unusual opportunity to estimate the capitalization of the property tax on property value. In 2002 the city of São Paulo changed the property tax structure moving from uniform rate to progressive with six different brackets. This is a unique opportunity since expenditure has not changed accordingly and a typical difficulty in estimating capitalization is that a change in property tax is followed by a change in expenditures. If capitalization occurs, progressivity would increase prices for the low end of the market and decrease prices for the high end, questioning how progressive is the policy indeed. We compare the prices before progressivity is implemented with prices after the fiscal reform for the low and high end of the market showing that there is indeed capitalization in the case of São Paulo. We test the robustness of this result and then discuss the consequences of such a finding for urban policy.


Property Taxation