Do Local Property Taxes Affect New Building Development? Results from a Quasi-Natural Experiment in New Zealand
Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics February 2019, Volume 58, Issue 2, pp 310–333
Posted: 8 May 2019
Date Written: February 2019
We utilise a quasi-natural experiment in local property tax reform arising from a compulsory amalgamation of several local councils in 2010 in Auckland, New Zealand, to form a unitary local authority. The reform involved changes in property taxes (known as 'Rates' in New Zealand) including a shift in the local tax base from land-value to capital-value in some of the former councils; changes in relative levels of Rates across former councils; and changes in levels of a separate tax (Development Contributions) levied on new building. These exogenously imposed reforms enable us to test several hypotheses related to the effects on property development of these tax switches using a difference-in-difference approach, controlling for other influences. We find support for tax effects on building alterations but no evidence of effects on new building development after amalgamation. Our dataset covers only two post-amalgamation years, and we speculate that this apparent difference may arise from greater flexibility of building alterations to respond quickly compared with new developments.
Keywords: Property taxes; Land tax; Development contributions; Impact fees; Property development
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