Paul L. Caron

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

How Property Taxes Fuel Racial Inequality

Andrew Kahrl (Virginia), More for Less: How Property Taxes Fuel Racial Inequality, 99 Tax Notes State 315 (Jan. 25, 2021):

Tax Notes StateThe Search for Tax Justice is a Tax Notes State series examining the inequities inherent in state and federal taxes. In this inaugural installment, Andrew Kahrl, professor of history and African American studies at the University of Virginia, explores the history of discriminatory tax practices against Black property owners.

The local property tax stands at the heart of a vicious cycle that perpetuates racial inequities in housing markets and schools. To break that cycle and begin to undo the damage, we must begin by simultaneously removing many of the discretionary powers local governments enjoy over tax assessment and collection and making local governments less reliant on local property taxes for revenue. This must come through massive increases in federal and state funding for public schools and municipalities. As long as cities and counties have the power and motivation to underassess and overassess properties to appease some constituents and achieve real estate market objectives, they will do so, and Black property owners and Black communities will continue to suffer.

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