Fiscal Zoning and Economists' Views of the Property Tax

25 Pages Posted: 20 Jun 2013

Date Written: June 19, 2013


Fiscal zoning is the practice of using local land-use regulation to preserve and possibly enhance the local property tax base. Economists agree that if localities can conduct "perfect zoning," which effectively makes all real estate development decisions subject to a review that balances its benefits and costs to the community, then the local property tax can be converted into a benefit tax and lacks the deadweight loss of taxation. This essay argues that American zoning is closer to this ideal than many other economists think. The practice is often difficult to detect because zoning serves several objectives besides fiscal prudence.

Keywords: fiscal zoning, property tax, benefit taxation, deadweight loss

JEL Classification: H7

Suggested Citation

Fischel, William A., Fiscal Zoning and Economists' Views of the Property Tax (June 19, 2013). Available at SSRN: or

William A. Fischel (Contact Author)

Dartmouth College ( email )

Economics Department
Rockefeller Hall
Hanover, NH 03755
United States
603-643-5724 (Phone)
603-646-2122 (Fax)

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