You might think property taxes have declined 30%, paralleling declines in housing values. But nope--property tax revenues have shot up 27% just since 2006.
Something remarkable happened to property taxes in the U.S. while housing lost 31% of its value from 2006 to 2009: they went up by $100 billion (27%). Equally remarkably, as we can see from this U.S. Census Bureau data on state and local tax revenues, property taxes went up even when housing slumped in the early 1990s.
So though U.S. housing continues losing value--U.S. home prices declined in January, continuing a downward trend that began in August, with average U.S. home prices retreating to summer 2003 levels, according to the S&P Case-Shiller home-price indexes--property tax revenues continue their inexorable rise.
I've plotted out the total national property tax revenues on a chart of the Case-Shiller home-price index.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics inflation measures, if property taxes had risen along with inflation, the total property tax revenues nationally would have risen from $210 billion in 1996--more or less about the start of housing's decade-long bubble--to $296 billion in 2011.
But property taxes totaled $476 billion in 2009, a solid 60% ($180 billion) above inflation.
So even as the net worth of property has fallen by a third, the property taxes collected from the owners have risen 27%.
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