By Justice Allen
- Black and Hispanic residents on average pay up to 13% more in property taxes than White property owners
- Philadelphia homes that cost $25-50K were assessed 70% higher than their actual price
In the wake of the pandemic, cities across the country have offered temporary tax breaks for those who were financially impacted. As a result, officials are finally starting to scrutinize the inflated property taxes that Black homeowners have to deal with. For decades local officials have been overvaluing Black homes, in turn leading to Black homeowners paying property taxes that are ridiculously high in relation to the value of their property. A report from the Washington Center for Equitable Growth noted that Black and Hispanic residents pay 10% to 13% more in property taxes compared to white residents.
Why This Matters: While it’s being discussed at length in the present day, these inflated tax assessments have stunted generations of financial growth and opportunity. Let’s keep in mind that as of 2016, white families had a median net worth of $171,000, while Black families had a median net worth just over $17,000, and it’s safe to assume that inflated property taxes have played a role. While Black families have to fight to create economic opportunity, white property owners are literally granted tax breaks across the country. What makes matters worse is that minorities are less likely to appeal their tax assessments, which leads to higher assessment growth rates.
Higher property taxes were used as a means of controlling Black property owners in the south during the Jim Crow era
Make no mistake, the unfair tax assessments were born out of racism. Higher property taxes were used as a means of controlling Black property owners in the south during the Jim Crow era, and these high tax assessments have continued into the present day. Whether it’s in Chicago, Philadelphia, or New Orleans, homeowners in minority communities have been and still are paying considerably more property taxes than those living in whiter, wealthier communities. Specifically, in Philadelphia, homes that cost $25,000 to $50,000 were assessed 70% higher than their actual price.
What’s Next: With the overwhelming amount of evidence in hand, we’ll be keeping an eye on how city officials respond. Until then, Black property owners should arm themselves with this information, and make an appointment for their tax assessment appeal ASAP.
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