NAHB analysis of the Census Bureau’s quarterly tax data shows that $594 billion in taxes were paid by property owners over the four quarters ending in Q1 2019. It has been seven years since four-quarter property tax revenues declined.
After accelerating in the third and fourth quarters of 2017, the four-quarter growth rate of property tax revenue has slowed in each quarter since. Increasing by 18.1%, corporate income tax revenues grew at a much faster pace than any other major category of tax receipts on a year-over-year basis. State and local individual income tax revenues edged up 1.2% while property and sales tax collections increased by 3.3% and 5.2%, respectively.
Property taxes accounted for 39.6% of state and local tax receipts—the second consecutive quarterly increase. In terms of the share of total receipts, property taxes are followed by individual income taxes (28.2%), sales taxes (28.0%), and corporate taxes (4.2%).
The ratio of property tax revenue to total tax revenue from the four sources shown above remains 2.6 percentage points above its pre-housing boom average of 37%.
The share of property tax receipts among the four major tax revenue sources naturally changes with fluctuations in non-property tax collections. Non-property tax receipts including individual income, corporate income, and sales tax revenues, by nature, are much more sensitive to fluctuations in the business cycle and the accompanying changes in consumer spending (affecting sales tax revenues) and job availability (affecting aggregate income). In contrast, property tax collections have proven relatively stable, reflecting the long-run stability of tangible property values as well as the smoothing effects of lagging assessments and annual adjustments. Property tax receipts are the least volatile revenue source, followed by sales taxes, individual income taxes, and corporate income taxes, in order of increasing volatility.