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October 31, 2018 The Tax Lawyer

The Connecticut Municipal Property Tax: Its Roots and Branches

Vol. 71, No. 4 - Summer 2018

Dan M. Smolnik


     Property taxation is regarded as both an efficient and effective way to raise money for the support of municipal budgets, not just in Connecticut, but all over the country. In that our towns are obliged to rely principally on property taxes for their own-source revenue, they are bound to make efforts to attract residents willing and able to pay for the benefits each town offers. In the same way, people select towns that offer one or more features and benefits for which they are willing to pay, not only in the initial cost of purchasing a home, but also in the annuity, which is property tax.

    Popular discourse holds it axiomatic that higher property taxes are the premium one pays in exchange for amenities such as more resilient growth in one’s real estate investment, “better” schools, and living in proximity of families of similar income levels. It turns out that this perception is only anecdotally supported by the data, leaving unanswered the question of just what combination of factors people are seeking as they select towns for their respective residences.

    This Article considers some of the policy and economic mechanics of the municipal property tax and historical antecedents of its foundation, and, finally, conducts a data-driven review of the correlations of several conditions commonly associated with property tax levels in Connecticut. Based on that review, this Article argues that most of the popularly claimed correlations of property tax levels with conventional amenities are misplaced.

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