Local Revenue Hills: Evidence from Four U.S. Cities
46 Pages Posted: 11 May 2003
Date Written: May 2003
We provide estimates of the impact and long-run elasticities of tax base with respect to tax rates for four large U.S. cities: Houston (property taxation), Minneapolis (property taxation), New York City (property, general sales, and income taxation), and Philadelphia (property, gross receipts, and wage taxation). Results suggest that three of our cities are near the peaks of their revenue hills; Minneapolis is the exception. A significant negative effect of a balanced budget increase in city property tax rates on city property tax base is interpreted as a capitalization effect and suggests that marginal increases in tax-financed city spending do not provide positive net benefits to property owners. Estimates of the effects of taxes on city employment levels for New York City and Philadelphia -- the two cities for which employment series are available -- show the local income and wage tax rates have significant negative effects on city employment levels. Cuts in these tax rates are likely to be an economically cost effective way to increase city jobs.
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