Black Homeowners Face Higher Property Taxes Than Their White Peers

A new working paper published by the Washington Center for Equitable Growth finds a significant racial gap in property tax rates. The paper was authored by Carlos Avenancio-León of Indiana of University, Bloomington and Troup Howard of the University of California, Berkeley.

Researchers analyzed data covering 118 million homes in the United States and 75,000 jurisdictions that assessed property taxes. The data showed that Black-owned homes were assessed at higher values compared to their actual sale price, than was the cases for homes owned by Whites. Furthermore, the data showed that Black families paid on average 13 percent more in property taxes than White families with similarly valued properties. Therefore, Black property owners pay a disproportionate share of the cost for schools and public services such as fire and police protection.

The authors state that “the inequality we document in taxation is a direct, ongoing, and current source of fiscal headwinds for minority families. We estimate an additional burden of $300–$390 per year for the median Black or Hispanic family. Nearly every homeowner in the U.S. faces a property tax, and this large-scale shifting of the tax burden onto minority residents violates the notions of equity embedded in the implicit contracts that residents make with local governments.”

The full study, “The Assessment Gap: Racial Inequalities in Property Taxation,” may be downloaded at this link.

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Comments (5)

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  1. Susu says:

    Try being a single parent, paying 10% sales tax, car tags, required insurance, AND $1000+ a month in tuition because the schools you’re paying taxes for (public schools) are failing schools and they’re having to dummy down grading so the kids will “pass”. THAT is disproportionate. If I pay taxes for a school my child should be able to attend and receive the same quality education as private school. The parents should care about their kids and not settle for mediocrity in manners, dress, attendance, etc. That is a REAL black issue.

    • Veronica S. Brown says:

      We need to file a lawsuits against every county and or municipality found charging us more anything.

  2. El says:

    This state of affairs is simply outrageous. Have the authors made their findings available to the Black caucuses at both the state and federal levels? If not, they SHOULD because there appear to be prima facie evidence of yet more anti-Black discrimination occurring in the real estate appraisal offices NATIONWIDE. Our elected representatives need to both publicize these findings and hold legislative hearings on what can be done to remove the racially based penalties paid by Black property owners. (My Lord, there’s no rest for the weary with respect to the never-ending struggle to ensure fairness and equity in virtually ALL spheres of life!

  3. Rubye Taylor-Drake says:

    I’m not surprised

  4. David Bauman says:

    A great example of academics using their research to highlight hidden systems: From the article: “We show that simply linking assessment growth to zip-code-level indexes will
    reduce racial inequality by 55–70%….Our empirical analysis of assessment ratios is closely aligned to the legal concept of “disparate impact,” a term that denotes group-level differences in outcomes between protected classes, one of which is race. …. Our results show that race-blind policies may still generate outcomes which are not race-neutral.”

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