New Study Finds That Property Tax Rates Unfairly Burden Black Homeowners

A new study by Christopher Berry, the William J. and Alicia Townsend Friedman Professor at the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago, finds that low-income families face far higher property tax rates than high-income families. The reason is differences in assessment rates between low-income and high-income neighborhoods. Professor Berry found that assessment levels are significantly higher for properties located in Census tracts with lower median housing values, lower income and education, and higher proportions of African Americans.

The study found that a property valued in the bottom 10 percent within a particular jurisdiction, pays an effective tax rate that is, on average, more than double that paid by a property in the top 10 percent. Properties located in neighborhoods that are 90 to 100 percent Black experience assessment levels that are more than 1.5 times the average for their county.

Professor Berry explains that “the property tax is the single largest source of revenue for American local governments. The fairness and accuracy of the tax hinges on the quality of property valuation by local assessors. Using data from millions of residential real estate transactions, this research shows that assessments are typically regressive, with low-priced properties being assessed at a higher value, relative to their actual sale price, than are high-priced properties.”

The unfairness in property assessment rates means that on a nationwide basis, the lowest-income homeowners effectively subsidize the tax bills of their higher-income counterparts, fueling inequities across racial, economic, housing, and other divides.

The full study, “Reassessing the Property Tax,” may be downloaded here.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Get the JBHE Weekly Bulletin

Receive our weekly email newsletter delivered to your inbox

Latest News

Alcorn State University Announces Unique STEM-Focused MBA Degree Program

The new STEM-MBA program at Alcorn State, the first of its kind in the state of Mississippi, will prepare students to become business leaders in STEM industries through courses on foundational STEM and business concepts, as well as data analysis and strategic decision-making.

Five Black Women Who Have Been Appointed to Dean Positions at Universities Across the United States

Here is this week’s roundup of African Americans who have been appointed to dean positions at universities throughout the United States. If you have news for our appointments section, please email the information to

PNC Partners With Howard University to Empower Black Entrepreneurship

The Howard University and PNC National Center for Entrepreneurship aims to support and educate Black entrepreneurs from across the country. The collaborative initiative includes three other HBCU partners: Morgan State University, Clark Atlanta University, and Texas Southern University.

Saida Grundy Wins Race, Gender, and Class Book Award From the American Sociology Association

Dr. Grundy's book, Respectable: Politics and Paradox in Making the Morehouse Man, explores the culture and experiences of graduates from Morehouse College in Atlanta, the country's only historically Black college for men.

Featured Jobs