The fiscal impact of sprawl on taxpayers is not only a result of sprawl but also associated with the feedback loops reinforcing sprawl if it influences in some way individuals’ location decisions. In fact, the separation of the locus of benefits and costs are associated with sprawl (Sowerby, 1994; Atkinson 1996) and a sprawling pattern shifts economic burdens within a region (Longman, 1998). Spatially, part of what brings about sprawl is the fiscal disparity between the urban core with a deteriorating tax base and newer developing suburban municipalities (Sowerby, 1994; Atkinson 1996). In terms of the distribution of economic burdens introduced by sprawl, low-density developments may pay for the full costs of neighborhood infrastructure and pass such costs on to homebuyers and other end-users of land. However, the provision, operation and maintenance of community-level infrastructure, such as public roads and sewers, as well as the provision of public services , such as police and schools, tend to be financed with local taxes or user fees that are independent of location. This causes remote development to be subsidized (Ewing 1994). In other words, low-density developments are rarely charged the full cost of the community infrastructure and public services they consume. Instead, these costs are averaged across a whole region or state, mostly charging the people in the older areas for the costs of sprawl (Longman 1998). Therefore, socially and temporally, the short-term benefits of sprawl accrue to suburban households while its long-term costs accrue to society (Burchell and Neuman, 1996). Sprawl is argued to be beneficial to suburban residents because they perceive benefits in the forms of lower property taxes and improved public services (MSPO 1995). However, suburban residents, especially middle class ones who may benefit from sprawl individually and hold political power, are not likely to seek solutions to sprawl, leaving the costs of sprawl to society (Burchell and Neuman, 1996). 

The property tax rate is often used in literature as an indicator of property taxes. ” Burchell and Neuman argue that “Higher property taxes generally indicate a significant array of public services or a stagnant or declining tax base …..the tax rate of an area has a strong correlation with the quantity and quality of public service delivered locally  (1996)”. This is because educated and wealthy populations usually demand a significant range and depth of public services. The changes in the characteristics of those who occupy existing local housing contribute significantly to what is happening to the local tax rate. For declining communities, it may be attributable to the decreasing occupancy costs of housing in these communities.