Summary of my upcoming book
The Michigan state constitution prohibits property tax assessments from exceeding 50% of a property’s market value. Using assessment and sales data from 2009-2015 for the entire City of Detroit, we find that property tax assessments are substantially in excess of the state constitutional limit. In fact, in each of the examined years, anywhere from 55-85% of properties were unconstitutionally assessed, and the constitutional violation was most pronounced for lower valued properties. To remedy inflated assessments, in 2014 and 2015,Detroit’s assessor implemented assessment decreases ranging from 5% to 20% for select districts, but we find that systemic assessment inequity persisted for lower valued properties despite these reductions.
Most importantly, this study on unconstitutional property tax assessments in Detroit, is part of a larger book project that introduces and develops a new theoretical concept called stategraft, which is when state agents transfer property from residents to the state in violation of the state’s own laws. Although the concept was developed using the Detroit case, stategraft applies beyond Detroit to many other cases, including the discriminatory fines imposed and enforced by the police and courts in Ferguson, MO, broken treaties with Native Americans, and abuses of civil forfeiture.
Stategraft by Bernadette Atuahene and Timothy Hodge