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

Journal of Land Use & Environmental Law, Vol. 20, pp. 1-60, 2004

University of Memphis Legal Studies Research Paper No. 52

60 Pages Posted: 14 Apr 2005 Last revised: 2 Jul 2010

See all articles by Lee Harris

Lee Harris

University of Memphis - Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law

Date Written: July 2, 2010

Abstract

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.

Keywords: Property tax, assessment, racial discrimination

Suggested Citation

Harris, Lee, 'Assessing' Discrimination: The Influence of Race in Residential Property Tax Assessments (July 2, 2010). Journal of Land Use & Environmental Law, Vol. 20, pp. 1-60, 2004; University of Memphis Legal Studies Research Paper No. 52. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=692583

Lee Harris (Contact Author)

University of Memphis - Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law ( email )

One North Front Street
Memphis, TN 38103-2189
United States
901-678-1393 (Phone)

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