Press Release for Wednesday, January 23, 2008

UNF Study Reveals Who Benefits from Property Tax Relief

Contact: Joanna Norris, Assistant Director
Department of Media Relations and Events
(904) 620-2102

A new University of North Florida study by researchers in the departments of Economics and Geography and Political Science and Public Administration shows who pays property taxes in Duval County. The study also looks at both taxes paid and the benefits received from property tax relief such as the homestead exemption (HSE) and the Save Our Homes (SOH) legislation, revealing the total tax break from SOH is higher than HSE.

Among the findings:

--The results of the study suggest that the property tax burden differs significantly across demographic groups and differs in proportion to how much real estate each group tends to own, finding that Caucasians pay a higher percentage of their income in property taxes than other ethnicities, all else equal.

--The results also show that households with heads that have at least a college degree pay a greater proportion of their income in property taxes, compared to households with heads that have a high school diploma or less.

--For households with children, the property tax burden was proportionately less than households without children. Older homeowners were found to pay a smaller percentage of their income in property taxes than younger homeowners.

--Property taxes are regressive, meaning that low-income homeowners pay a higher percentage of their income in property taxes than homeowners with high incomes.

--The total tax break from SOH for the average household in Duval County (about $900) is 100 percent higher than the HSE tax break (about $450).

--Minority households and households with lower educational attainment get a proportionately smaller tax benefit from the SOH tax breaks.

--Benefits of housing price appreciation translate into significant tax advantages for predominantly Caucasian and well-educated households.

--Older households enjoy proportionately higher benefits from the SOH, compared to households headed by someone under 65 years old.

--Households with children under the age of 16 receive a smaller SOH tax benefit as a percentage of their income than households without children at home.

--The benefit of SOH is progressive, which means that the SOH tax benefit represents a higher percentage of their income for lower-income households than for wealthy households.

--The HSE benefit is distributed progressively, meaning that lower-income homeowners receive a greater benefit relative to their incomes.

--African American, Hispanic and other ethnicity households receive a greater HSE benefit as a percent of income than do Caucasian households.

--Heads of households with the lowest levels of education get the greatest tax break as a percentage of income from the HSE.

--Homeowners over the age of 65 seem to benefit proportionately more from HSE than younger households. Interestingly, families with children benefit proportionately less from the HSE compared to families without children living at home.

A full copy of the report is available upon request. For more information, contact either Dr. Mary Borg at (904) 620-1095, Dr. Harriet Stranahan at (904) 620-1219 or Dr. William Voorhees at (904) 620-3908.