The way property taxes are assessed is inherently unfair to the non-wealthy, and the consequences are brutal and long lasting for those on the wrong end of this regressive system, especially Black families.
The problem is national, and it;s not accidental according to numerous studies and a long history of discriminatory housing policies, as this analysis by Bloomberg Businessweek points out.
“The residential property tax, which raises more than $500 billion annually to pay for public schools, fire departments, and other local services, is, in effect, racist.
That conclusion carries far-reaching implications of its own—not only for municipalities’ day-to-day operations but also for roughly $331 billion in general-obligation bonds that cities, counties, and school districts have guaranteed with property tax revenue, according to data compiled by Bloomberg Businessweek. The evidence of systematic unfairness is mounting. Since at least the 1970s, piecemeal studies from Chicago, Detroit, New Orleans, and New York have concluded that property tax systems favor those who are better off. A 2020 study from the University of Chicago brings unprecedented scope to the question, covering 2,600 U.S. counties. It found that more than 9 out of every 10 reflected the same pattern of unfairness. “It’s a textbook example of institutional racism,” says Christopher Berry, a professor at the university’s Harris School of Public Policy who led the research effort.”