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The effect of Walmart on the tax base: evidence from New Jersey

Vandegrift, Donald and Loyer, John and Kababik, David (2011): The effect of Walmart on the tax base: evidence from New Jersey.

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This paper measures the impact of 30 Walmart openings on the municipal tax base using panel data for New Jersey municipalities from 1998-2007. We consider the impact of the new Walmart on the home municipality as well as the nearest adjacent municipality in the year the outlet opens as well as the two subsequent years. Because Walmart may exert differing effects on residential and non-residential values, we undertake separate analyses of the impact of Walmart on the residential and non-residential tax bases. We find that a new Walmart has a significant positive impact on the growth in the tax base in host municipalities the second year that it is open, but not in years one and three. In addition, the impact of the Walmart on the growth in the tax base depends on the size of the municipality. In the average-sized municipality, the real equalized tax base growth rate rises only about 0.35 percentage points in the second year. This effect is primarily the result of Walmart’s impact on residential values in the host municipality. By contrast, a new Walmart causes a modest but consistently negative effect on growth of the tax base in the adjacent municipality across all three years that we are able to measure. In the average sized municipality for our sample, the real equalized tax base growth rate falls rate falls 0.065, 0.081, and 0.096 percentage points, respectively. This effect occurs primarily through the Walmart’s impact on growth of non-residential values. The cumulative effect of this reduction in growth in the adjacent municipality is roughly two thirds of the increase in growth experienced by the home municipality.

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