Linking property tax revenue and public services

Linking property tax revenue and public services

In practical terms most property tax reforms are, first and foremost, efforts to increase tax revenue. But the ultimate goal of tax reform is, of course, broader: expanding tax revenue in order to finance the provision of valuable publicly-provided goods and services. Tax reform is only socially desirable if tax revenue is, in fact, translated into improved public outcomes. Otherwise taxation amounts to little more than the extraction of revenue from taxpayers.

Tax reformers are correspondingly faced with a simple question: is the revenue from tax reform actually likely to be translated into publicly-provided goods and services? Perhaps more importantly, could property tax reform programmes be designed explicitly to increase the likelihood that revenue will be translated into valued publicly-provided goods and services? Rather than only raising more revenue, tax reformers may have the power to proactively shape the quality of public spending.

This brief is available to download in both French and English using the links above.