"Under federal law, local governments are compensated through various programs for reductions to their property tax bases due to the presence of most federally owned land. These lands cannot be taxed, but may create demand for services such as fire protection, police cooperation, or simply longer roads to skirt the federal property. Some of these programs are run by specific agencies and apply only to that agency's land. The most widely applicable program, administered by the Department of the Interior (DOI), applies to many types of federally owned land, and is called 'Payments in Lieu of Taxes,' or PILT. The authorized level of PILT payments is calculated under a complex formula. This report addresses only the PILT program administered by DOI. There is no PILT-like program generally applicable to military lands, but a small fraction of military lands are eligible for the DOI PILT program. Furthermore, PILT does not apply to Indian-owned lands, virtually none of which are subject to local taxes. […] With the extension of mandatory spending to FY2013, the program would return to funding through annual appropriations in FY2014. Over the next few years, the larger debate for Congress might then be summarized as three decisions: (1) whether to approve future extensions of mandatory spending (either temporary or permanent); (2) whether to make the diametrically opposed choice of reducing the program through appropriations or changing the PILT formula; and (3) whether to add or subtract any lands to the list of those now eligible for PILT payments. Background on all three issues is discussed here."
CRS Report for Congress, RL31392