Fiscal Disparities Facts

Twin Cities metro area has unique tax-base sharing program

The Twin Cities attracts national and international interest because of a unique tax-base sharing program. The Fiscal Disparities Program shares tax base from commercial-industrial development in the seven-county metro area. Tax-base sharing spreads the benefits of commercial-industrial growth no matter where the property exists within the metro area. 

Tax-base sharing supports the Metropolitan Council’s goals of orderly and efficient economic growth and equity. The Fiscal Disparities Program:

  • Improves equity by decreasing large differences in property tax wealth among communities. Tax-base sharing reduces the fiscal impact of commercial-industrial development, which tends to concentrate near regional infrastructure and services, such as highways, wastewater treatment, and transit.
  • Supports cost-effective regional wastewater treatment and transportation services. The program reduces incentives for local communities to compete against each other and develop in less efficient ways.
  • Promotes a regional approach to planning and development. Tax-base sharing spreads the benefits of business development attracted by regional facilities and services. A regional perspective supports cooperation and strengthens our economic competitiveness as a metro area.
  • The program encourages land uses that increase environmental protection and livability but raise little or no tax revenue. Examples include regional parks, open space, wetlands, and low-income housing.
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Tax-base sharing designed to achieve six goals

The Minnesota Legislature created the metro area program in 1971, and tax-base sharing began in 1975. State law defines six goals of the program:

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  • Sharing resources produced by growth of the metro area
  • Making orderly development more likely
  • Working within the existing system of local governments and local decision-making
  • Giving incentives for all to work for growth of the seven-county metro area as a whole
  • Helping communities in different stages of development and redevelopment
  • Encouraging environmental protection 

How tax-base sharing works

Local taxing jurisdictions contribute part of growth in commercial, industrial, and public utility property tax base to a shared pool of tax base. Local property tax administrators then distribute tax base from the shared pool.

Taxing jurisdictions include cities, townships, counties, school districts, and special taxing districts. Property tax base (net tax capacity) equals the taxable value of property multiplied by its class rate. Each class of property, such as commercial/industrial/public utility, has one or more class rates. The net change from tax-base sharing is the distribution from the shared pool minus the contribution to the shared pool.

Figure 1. Explanation of how tax-base sharing works

A community with below-average property value per person receives a somewhat larger share of the areawide pool of tax base. A community with above-average property tax value per person receives a somewhat smaller share.


How much tax base the program shares

The Fiscal Disparities Program shared $500 million in tax base for taxes payable in 2021. This represents 33% of total commercial, industrial, and public utility property tax base and 10% of total tax base in the seven-county metro area.

How much revenue the areawide pool shares

The program shared over $697 million in tax revenue for taxes payable in 2021.Food co-op Building

How tax-base sharing impacts communities

A total of 179 communities participate in the program. More communities gain tax base (110 net recipients) than lose tax base (69 net contributors). Top net contributors concentrate near major highways and job centers.

Tax-base sharing narrows the gap between communities with the highest and the lowest commercial, industrial, and public utility property tax base per person. For communities with over 10,000 people, the ratio of the highest to lowest is 6 to 1 with sharing and 14 to 1 without it.

How tax-base sharing affects commercial-industrial property

Part of a commercial, industrial, or public utility property is taxed at an areawide rate, and the rest is taxed at the local rate. The areawide tax rate reduces differences in tax rates across the metro area.

More information

For more information, visit the Metropolitan Council’s website at Fiscal Disparities: Tax-Base Sharing in the Twin Cities Metropolitan Area.