Southern Public Administration Education Foundation

Local Government Property Tax Amnesty Programs: Structures and Themes

Author: JUSTIN M. ROSS
Published in PFM, Vol. 12 No. 2

While the use of tax amnesty programs has been commonplace for decades among subnational governments in the United States, historically these offers have not been extended to delinquent real property taxes. There have been 29 property tax amnesties offered by local governments in seven states, however, and most of these programs have appeared in just the last 10 years. This paper presents data on these programs, and then provides a narrative analysis of these cases by drawing upon archival data from press releases, media reports, comprehensive annual financial reports, city council minutes, and policy memos. Several themes emerge from this study revealing the role of real property tax amnesty to be more diverse than their state counterparts. The conclusion summarizes these lessons and offers some considerations for policy makers.

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