Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs

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Seminar Series: The Assessment Gap: Racial Inequalities in Property Taxation

Wednesday, September 30, 2020, 12:30pm - 01:45pm
Location:  Zoom

Presenter: Assistant Professor Troup Howard, University of Utah David Eccles School of Business

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Using panel data covering 118 million homes in the United States and geolocation detail for 75,000 taxing entities, Assistant Professor Troup Howard and Carlos Avenancio-León of Indiana University documented a nationwide "assessment gap.” Howard will discuss how this gap leads local governments to place a disproportionate fiscal burden on racial and ethnic minorities.

Howard and his colleague found that holding jurisdictions and property tax rates fixed, black and Hispanic residents face a 10 percent to 13 percent higher tax burden for the same bundle of public services. He will describe two channels that give rise to this assessment gap: insufficient capitalization of neighborhood attributes into assessments and racial differences in assessment appeals outcomes.

Howard and his co-author propose an alternate approach for constructing assessments and show that this would reduce inequality by at least 55 percent to 70 percent.

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