Coalition Sues City Over Property Tax System

A diverse coalition of civil justice leaders, homeowners, and landlords recently filed a lawsuit charging that the property tax system is racially biased. The coalition, Tax Equity Now NY (TENNY), filed suit in Manhattan Supreme Court backed up by data collected by former city finance commissioner Martha Stark mapping out a disparity that hurts certain homeowners and renters.

In 94 pages, TENNY charges the city’s system violates the state and U.S. Constitution by treating different property owners differently. And it alleges the system’s racial bias violates the federal Fair Housing Act. According to the data, homeowners in upscale majority-white neighborhoods like Park Slope and Brooklyn Heights paying less than owners in predominantly minority neighborhoods like East New York and South Jamaica. And owners of large apartment buildings also pay the highest effective tax rate based on the value of their buildings, and pass the burden on to their tenants.

The suit asks a judge to order the city and state to remedy these flaws by changing the way homes, co-ops, condos, and rental buildings are assessed and taxed.