The Effect of Public Lands on Property Taxes in Minnesotan Counties

Student Author(s)

Adriane Burmester

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. John Lunn

Document Type


Event Date



About twenty-five percent of Minnesota land is publicly owned, much of it resulting from private owners failing to pay taxes on their landholdings during the Great Depression. There has been a longstanding debate about whether continued public ownership or private ownership would generate a heavier tax burden for county residents. This paper investigates whether or not public land ownership affects the county tax rate by comparing total tax levies with the proportion of publicly owned land in Minnesotan counties. By using a series of linear regressions, I found that public ownership of land did not cause a significant increase or decrease in the tax levies of county inhabitants. While there was no significant correlation between tax levies and the proportion of publicly owned land within a county, the income level and distance away from Minneapolis were found to have a significant impact on the tax levies of Minnesotan counties. While my findings affirm results from previous studies, the complexities of the situation allow for ample future research possibilities.

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