'Assessing' Discrimination: The Influence of Race in Residential Property Tax Assessments

SSRN Electronic Journal 07/2010; 20. DOI: 10.2139/ssrn.520242


In this Article, I document evidence that residential property in majority-minority neighborhoods is assessed at higher effective rates than like property in majority-white neighborhoods. I examine data on sales price and assessed value for more than fourteen hundred homes sales in New Haven, Connecticut from 2000-2001. My chief finding is that residents of minority neighborhoods - namely, African American and Latino - face assessments that are significantly higher than the market value of their residences, while residents of majority white neighborhoods are assessed at significantly less than market value. As a solution to assessment discrimination, I propose that assessments be meted out not on the purported market value of the underlying residence as is the case currently in most jurisdictions, but based on the actual cash costs of making home purchases.

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