New York City must overhaul property tax system after years of ‘discriminatory’ inequality: court

After Black Property Owners, New York State Supreme Court Orders New York City to Overhaul Its Tax System in Landmark Ruling claim that the process Benefiting their allies in white, wealthy areas.

“After decades of evading responsibility to address a widely acknowledged problem and a seven-year legal battle, city and state leaders will be called upon to create a fair and equitable property tax system that reaches millions of low-income and minority racial tenants and homeowners,” Martha Stark, policy director at Tax Equity Now New York, the group that filed the lawsuit, said in a statement after Tuesday’s ruling.

Protesters argue that the city’s assessment process, which helps determine property owners’ taxes, discriminates against minorities and unfairly increases their property values ​​for tax purposes.

A major ruling from the state’s Supreme Court on Tuesday will force the city to make major changes to how property taxes are assessed. Christopher Sadowski

For example, they say the system assesses properties in lower-economic areas like Jamaica and Queens to be worth more than similar locations in upscale, predominantly white neighborhoods like Park Slope and Brooklyn.

TENNY claims in the lawsuit that these different assessments translate into de facto discrimination because their “shocking inequalities” harm “those least able to afford heavy taxes,” according to court documents.

“Properties worth millions of dollars are subject to similar or lower tax rates than less valuable properties, and…properties in majority-white areas are taxed at a higher rate than properties in majority-white areas,” the filing reads. It’s overestimated, and you have to pay higher taxes,” he said.

“Tenney’s allegation that New York City’s tax system perpetuates racial segregation is sufficient,” state Superior Court Judge Jenny Rivera wrote in her opinion.

Ana Champeny, a senior fellow at the Citizens Budget Council, told The Washington Post on Tuesday that “the court’s ruling appears to indicate that the city has the ability to make changes within its administrative authority to reduce property tax bills.” difference.”

Lower courts have ruled that any issues should be resolved by the state Legislature.

“What the court said is that the city can achieve uniformity of assessments within the cap. That can be done administratively,” Stark told The Washington Post in an interview on Tuesday.

The court’s ruling will force the city to change the formula used to assess property values. Christopher Sadowski
A lower court will specify how the city will comply with the high court’s ruling in the future. Christopher Sadowski

The specifics of how the city will comply will be decided by lower courts.

New York Mayor Eric Adams declined to comment on the court’s ruling on Tuesday, but his lawyers said they would comply with legal instructions.

New York City firm Sylvia Hinds-Radix added: “The appeals court has made a valid decision. This does not mean the litigation is over and it will return to the lower court for a decision.”

Gov. Kathy Hochul also declined to release specific details as she and her legal team said they would continue to review the ruling.

“I’m not going to go overboard on this,” Hochul said Tuesday. “It’s important to get it right and that we abide by the terms of this decision but also make sure that we do the best we can.” Eliminate discrimination. “

The landmark ruling was handed down by an increasingly liberal majority on the appeals court. becoming more and more noticeable Since Hochul appointed Judge Rowan Wilson to lead the court Bruising battle There was a more moderate candidate last year.

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