PILT (Payments in Lieu of Taxes): Somewhat Simplified [November 7, 2013]   [open pdf - 450KB]

"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. […] This report addresses only the PILT program administered by DOI. […] This report explains PILT payments, with an analysis of the five major factors affecting the calculation of a payment to a given county. It also describes the effects of certain legislative changes in PILT in 2009 and 2012. […] 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 by 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." This report includes the following supporting documentation: Figures (1-5); Tables (1-2) and (A-1-3); Appendix (1).

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, RL31392
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