Report: Detroit's Property Tax System in Need of Major Overhaul

Detroit's comeback has been well documented, as has its efforts to remove blight and demolish vacant properties. A new report sheds light on another of the city's deepest challenges: how to reform property taxes to achieve fiscal certainty.

November 11, 2015, 12:00 PM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


"Detroit is still hindered in its recovery by structural flaws in its property tax system," according to a new report published by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy.

A post on the Lincoln Institute's blog introduces the study, which details the multiple stresses on the city's fiscal system associated with property tax system, including high property tax rates, delinquencies, inaccurate assessments, overuse of tax breaks, and limitations imposed by the Michigan constitution and state statutes.

The report, titled Detroit and the Property Tax: Strategies to Improve Equity and Enhance Revenue and written by Gary Sands, Wayne State University professor emeritus of urban planning, also provides five suggestions for reforming Detroit's property tax system, which are informative for other post-industrial cities struggling to achieve fiscal balance. The reports suggested reforms:

  • Continue to improve assessments
  • Improve the targeting of tax abatements
  • Implement a land-based tax
  • Eliminate the state's taxable-value cap
  • Reduce statutory tax rates

Christine MacDonald picked up the news of the report, providing coverage for The Detroit News. The article focuses mostly on the imbalance of tax breaks for businesses and the highest tax rates of any major city in the country for individual property owners.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015 in At Lincoln House

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