In the United States, many State governments tax land property owners based on the value of the property. These taxes are assessed every year and must be paid or the state will seize your property and auction it to the highest bidder.

I'm wondering to what extent the legality of this practice (constitutional or otherwise) has been tested in American courts. America's founding was in part related to upset about some of the obscure taxing schemes of pre-industrial England. So called "double taxation" and even income tax are/were objectionable in the past. The annual taxing of property based on value seems suspect to me, so I presume some courts have tested it. I want to know what those cases are and the reasoning that concluded annual property taxing is legal.

  • 2
    I don't have cases to cite, but typically the argument goes like this: "Do you drive on a road to get to your house? When it snows, does it get plowed? When your house is burglarized, do the police show up? When your house is on fire, does the fire department show up? Do your children attend school? Does your township enforce laws to keep your home value up?" Yes? Then you need to pay for that.
    – Ron Beyer
    Jul 17, 2019 at 12:09
  • And it isn't just state taxes on your home, there are usually county taxes, school district taxes, village/township/city taxes and others that are all assessed based on property value. If they didn't tax based on value, how would you do it? Should the guy with a $5m house down the road be paying as much as the couple with 3 kids and blue-collar jobs?
    – Ron Beyer
    Jul 17, 2019 at 12:12
  • 2
    I'm talking about those services being paid for by property taxes, not sales taxes. State taxes go into a general state fund, but local county/township taxes stay local to pay for local services like surface street repair, police and fire services, and school. The state does not pay for those things unless the city obtains a grant or loan from the state.
    – Ron Beyer
    Jul 17, 2019 at 12:18
  • 5
    Do you have in mind a specific legal objection that would be raised, e.g. which part of the Constitution would be violated? The issues with federal income taxes in the early 1900s would have nothing to do with state property taxes, and I can try to explain why in more detail if you like. I don't know what "double taxation" refers to in your question; can you elaborate what you mean, how and when it was "objectionable", and why you think similar issues could apply to state property tax? Jul 17, 2019 at 14:03
  • 2
    if your position is market value is arbitrary, i will point you to read up on 19th century economist Henry George. That some states split property tax assessment on the value of land and improvements is due to his work. econlib.org/library/Enc/bios/George.html
    – user662852
    Jul 18, 2019 at 21:01


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.