Reforming State Taxes on Property

18 Pages Posted: 15 Jul 2020

See all articles by John W. Freebairn

John W. Freebairn

University of Melbourne - Department of Economics

Date Written: June 17, 2020


Alternative details of tax reform options to replace the current conveyance duty on property transfers, the narrow base land tax, and arguably also stamp duty on property insurance, with an annual property tax in an approximate revenue neutral reform package are described and evaluated. A comprehensive tax base and flat rate replacement land tax offers maximum gains in efficiency and simplicity. But, viewed against the taxes to be replaced it has important tax redistribution effects. Less redistributive options include longer term systems and transition options. Longer term system replacement options include: different taxes for commercial, resident rental, and owner occupied property; improved property rather than land value for the tax base; and a progressive rate rather than a flat rate. Transition adjustment path options include: credit for recent paid conveyance duty; gradual phase down of conveyance duty rate and phase up of replacement property tax. Provision for liquidity constrained owners to carry forward the replacement annual property tax is supported.

Keywords: property taxes, tax reform, conveyance duty

JEL Classification: H21, H22, H27

Suggested Citation

Freebairn, John W., Reforming State Taxes on Property (June 17, 2020). Tax and Transfer Policy Institute, working paper 6/2020 , Available at SSRN: or

John W. Freebairn (Contact Author)

University of Melbourne - Department of Economics ( email )

Victoria 3010, 3010

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