A new report prepared by a consultant for the National Association of Homebuilders reviews dozens of strategies which have been proposed or used to promote affordable housing. It points out that an increased tax rate on land values, balanced with decreased taxation of improvements, reduces real estate taxes for most homeowners, while encouraging owners of vacant or underused land to get their land developed, often increasing the supply of housing.
The report also notes that it costs virtually nothing to tax land at a higher rate than improvements. Examples cited include Harrisburg and Allentown, PA. Information is from Josh Vincent of the Center for the Study of Economics.
In Illinois, the Cook County Board could pursue a similar strategy using existing authority to tax land and improvements as two different classes of real estate. As previously discussed here, the Assessor could take a big step in this direction by just valuing vacant land as prescribed by existing laws and ordinances.