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Michael Bell

Title:
Research Professor
Email:
[email protected]

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A public finance economist, Michael Bell studies issues related to local property taxes, fiscal federalism, fiscal decentralization and intergovernmental relations.

His interest in local property taxes includes the erosion of the local property tax base in the United States and the implication that has for accountability. He is also interested in the potential benefits and administrative challenges of a land value tax.

He's interested in implementing a local property tax in post-conflict or fragile states where there is no real estate market and a variety of land tenure systems and also the potential benefits of fiscal decentralization and stability in fragile and post-conflict states.

Current Research

Land Value Taxation and Local General Sales Taxes. Many local governments depend on local general sales taxes for revenues. Using data from two case study counties in Georgia this project explores the implications of eliminating a local general sales tax as a source of local revenue and replacing the lost revenue with an increase tax rate on land values.

Property Tax Expenditure Budget. The local property tax base is slowly being eroded by a variety of state and local policies intended to provide property tax relief to preferential property owners or types of property. For the public and state and local policy makers to make informed decisions about such policies, they need to have better information on the costs of such programs and the distribution of benefits across properties. Using data from two case study counties in New Mexico the project estimates of the distributional consequences of assessment limits imposed on residential properties.

Selected Publications

Books

The Property Tax and Local Autonomy, Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, Cambridge, MA, with David Brunori and Joan Youngman, editors, 2010.

Erosion of the Property Tax Base: Trends, Causes and Consequences, Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, Cambridge, MA., with Nancy Y. Augustine, David Brunori and Joan M. Youngman, editors, 2009.

Implementing A Local Property Tax Where There Is No Real Estate Market: The Case of Commonly Owned Land In Rural South Africa, Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, Cambridge, Massachusetts, April 2006, with John H. Bowman. 

Journal Articles

“A Note on the Distributional Consequences of Use Value Assessments,” with Daniel Coogan and David Brunori, Public Finance and Management, Volume 14, Number 2, pp. 118-132, 2014.

“Consequences of Assessment Limits,” with Katrina D. Connolly, Public Finance and Management, Volume 14, Number 2, pp. 133-164, 2014.

“Financing Urban Government in Transition Countries: Assessment Uniformity and the Property Tax” with Katrina Connolly, Environment & Planning C: Government & Policy, December 2010.

“Distributional Consequences of Converting the Property Tax to a Land Value Tax: Replication and Extension of England and Zhao,” with John H. Bowman, National Tax Journal, Volume 61, No. 4 Part 1, December 2008, pp. 593-607.