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Ohio's Property Tax Burden Shifts From Businesses To Homes

A new study shows Ohio’s property taxes have been shifting from business to residential and agricultural for 35 years, a shift that’s accelerated over the last 20 years.

“If [homeowners] feel like their tax bill has been going up, it’s not an illusion. It has been,” says Ohio State University’s Howard Fleeter, who did the study for the Education Tax Policy Institute. His study shows the shift has occurred both in terms of total dollars and in the share of property taxes paid by homeowners compared to businesses. Homeowners and farmers were paying about 48 percent of the property taxes in 1975. That was up to more than 70 percent in 2011.

Teeter says the biggest part of that shift came from cutting taxes that companies and utilities paid on inventory and equipment. It was a move seen as good for business.

“But the consequences for schools and other local governments are that for districts that had a power plant or a large factory or an outlet mall, they could be severely affected by that,” he says. “And then the impetus is, if your tax base has shrunk because we’re no longer taxing a big taxpayer, then the burden is then shifted on the remaining taxpayers.”

Teeter noted that the state made up to the districts some of the loss of the taxes on inventory and equipment, but ratcheted way back on that in 2012 and 2013.

M.L. Schultze is a reporter and web editor for Ohio Public Radio's WKSU.