State Watch

New study finds systemic racism in property tax assessments: report

Black families pay 13 percent more in property taxes each year than white families in the same financial situation, a new study found. 

According to a new working paper by economists Troup Howard of the  University of California, Berkeley, and Carlos Avenancio-León of Indiana University obtained by The Washington Post, Black-owned homes are more likely to be assessed at higher values relative to their sale price.

The economists assessed sales data for 118 million homes throughout the country over the past decade. In nearly every state, tax assessments were higher in areas with higher Black and Hispanic populations.

Combined, Black and Hispanic people pay 10 percent higher property taxes than white people. Researchers excluded California from the study because Proposition 13, passed in 1978, changed the way property is valued there compared to the rest of the country.

These inequities result in Black and Hispanic Americans paying more in taxes but historically having less access to public resources. Black and Hispanic Americans also earn lower wages on average, making high property taxes a larger financial burden.

Dorothy Brown, an Emory University law professor who researches systemic racism in tax policy, told the Post the study’s findings are not surprising. 

“The structure of the property tax system operates to disadvantage Black Americans,” she said. “That’s how structural racism is. It’s built into the system. The property tax system itself discriminates against Black Americans.”

Tags Property taxes systemic racism

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