Local Tax Abatement

HEHS-94-84R: Published: Apr 21, 1994. Publicly Released: Apr 21, 1994.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the impact of tax abatements on five large city school districts. GAO noted that: (1) four of the five school districts reviewed did not believe that tax abatements had a major impact on school funding; (2) school district officials believed that declining state aid, federal and state unfunded mandates, property tax limitation laws, and property tax exemptions were greater revenue problems than local tax abatements; (3) one school district believed that tax abatement was a major cause of its revenue problems; (4) in 1992, revenue forgone to business and residential tax abatement in the five school districts ranged from 0.11 percent to 1.9 percent of total school district revenues; (5) the opinions regarding tax abatements varied among the school districts; (6) although all the school districts believed that economic development benefitted their communities and school districts, two of the five expressed frustration over tax abatements and three of the five were either neutral or supported tax abatements; (7) schools voluntarily participate in tax abatement programs to retain jobs and residents within their districts; and (8) school district officials did not believe that tax abatement programs had a significant impact on student enrollment.

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