'79 property taxes: down -- 'n up

In 1979, for the first time since World War II growth in property taxes in the United States slowed, and even declined. According to Tax Foundation economists, total collections dropped in 1979 to $64.9 billion from $66.4 billion in '78 -a 2.2 percent decline.

So why aren't property owners cheering? If they live in California or Maryland, maybe they are. But these were the only states in the nation where taxes actually dropped -and in Maryland the decline was only a modest 1.6 percent ($18.4 million). The 1979 drop is attributed almost entirely to the effect of Proposition 13 in California, where property tax collections fell nearly $5 billion, or 45.1 percent.

As for the rest of the nation, total US collections, excluding California, rose, moving from $283 per capita in l978 to $298 in 1979 -an increase of 5.5 percent.

The highest per capita levels recorded in 1979, after Alaska's leading $826, were in Massachusetts ($546), Wyoming ($513), New Jersey ($506), New York ($482) , and Connecticut ($456). These compared with the US average level of $295 per capit a (including California).

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