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Levy imposed on real estate (land and buildings) and in some jurisdictions on personal property such as automobiles, jewelry, and furniture. Some countries also levy property taxes on farm equipment, business equipment, and inventories as well as intangibles such as stocks and bonds. Property taxes are usually levied by local or state governments rather than national governments, and they are a major source of tax revenue. Property taxes existed in the ancient world first as land taxes and later as taxes on farmhouses, livestock, and so on. The administration of a property tax involves identifying the property to be taxed, assessing its value, determining the appropriate tax rate, and collecting the requisite sum of money. Though sometimes burdensome to the poor, property taxes generally tend to redistribute the benefits of wealth from higher to lower income groups, since they often pay for schools and other services used by low-income groups. See alsocapital-gains tax; consumption tax; income tax; progressive tax; regressive tax.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on property tax, visit Britannica.com.