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  • Writer's pictureJesse Ledbetter

Why do the wealthy pay less property tax?

In "Property Taxes Rob From the Poor, Give Breaks to the Rich," Alan Greenblatt details some of the reasons for a phenomenon that I witness on a regular basis: high-value homes are regularly assessed lower, on a percentage basis, than low-value homes when compared to their market value. This means that the tax burden is disproportionally carried by those with less resources. In his article, Greenblatt details that minorities in 96% of the nation's markets, pay 10-13% higher in real estate taxes than white owners in similar markets as well.


Why?

The reality is that lower-value homes are likely more accurately assessed. Greenblatt does an excellent job of detailing the reasons. Assessments are based on sales, and higher-value homes historically transfer less often and off-market where data is more difficult for assessors to obtain. Further, I regularly find that assessors have measured accurately 1000sf ranch homes, but struggle a great deal to have an accurate sketch of 5000sf mansions.


However, one of the most likely reasons is that the wealthy can afford to challenge their assessment. Challenging assessments requires an appraisal and the time needed to spend in the bureaucracy of the assessment office.


How do we change this?

  1. Employ appraisers in the assessment office to perform actual appraisals on high-value homes (not mere mass appraisal results being trusted).

  2. Inform homeowners of how to challenge an assessment:

  • Research your property with the local tax office (search terms "GIS map", "tax cards" plus your municipality

  • Compare what the county records in comparison to your home. Challenge material facts with photos and emails. This is a free way to change your assessed value.

  • Higher an appraiser to perform an appraisal for a tax appeal



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