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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Non-uniform real estate taxation: a case study of the consequences Ward, Laurence William Percy


This thesis examines the general subject of real estate property taxation and the specific problem of evaluating the consequences of certain taxation policies. The administration of real estate property taxation in North America is examined by means of a literature review. Particular emphasis is placed on the criticism that has been directed at the tax on the basis of administration and the nature of the tax. The problem of non-uniformity of taxation and its consequences is examined in great detail. The sources of the problem and proposed remedies are reviewed and the methods of analysis are subjected to a critical analysis. The economic characteristics of real estate property taxes are analyzed, drawing particular attention to the difference between the effects of a tax on land and a tax on improvements. Taxes on land and improvements are evaluated in terms of their effects on property values, rents, investment decisions and development. Land assessment practices in a residential-business transition zone adjacent to the central business district in Regina are examined in detail, relating the assessed values to estimated market values. Assessed land values, expressed as percentages of estimated market value in the transition zone are compared to assessed land values in developing residential subdivisions also expressed as a percentage of the estimated market value. Land assessment rates in the transition zone are adjusted to approximately the same percentage of estimated market value as the land assessment rates in the developing subdivisions and the effect of this change on the distribution of taxes is calculated. The effects of the redistribution of taxes are evaluated using economic and real estate property taxation theories. The examination is limited to a qualitative analysis due to the lack of data which prevents the formulation of mathematical models that are capable of making quantitative predictions. In conclusion, although the methods employed to analyze the under- assessment of land in one part of the city do provide some indication of the consequences of the policy, the inability to make quantitative judgments limits their application as policy implementation tools.

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