The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Detroit Continues to Overtax the Poorest Homeowners

Apr 8, 2024

A recent study by the University of Chicago found that the City of Detroit and Wayne County over-assessed 65% of homes with the lowest property values for taxes. In contrast, only 11% of the highest-valued homes were over-assessed.

In 2020, an investigation by The Detroit News showed that Detroit residents paid 600 million dollars too much in property taxes between 2010 and 2017 due to improper assessments. It exposed one of the reasons why 73,000 homeowners had their homes foreclosed on due to unpaid property taxes between 2008 and 2019. In the meantime, the Detroit City Council passed a property tax reform last year, and the city and county supposedly set up a means for people to appeal their assessments. As a result, the issue was out of the spotlight until a recent study came to light, showing that the problem still continues.

Some local activists are pushing for the city to lower assessments by 30% for all houses valued under $35,000 to address the problem. They are certainly right to bring attention to the problem, but this issue points to a much bigger problem.

School funding in Michigan comes from local property taxes, so it depends on the collection of property taxes. This study shows that even that is done unfairly.

Why should something as important as public education be done in each small jurisdiction? Cities with higher poverty rates are doomed to have more difficulty providing adequate funding for quality education.

But taxing the wealthy and the corporations to pay for things like public education would be too much like right in a capitalist society in which they and their politicians make the rules.