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Center for Policy Research

Property Tax Web Series

An Evaluation of the Residential Property Tax Equity in New York City

Christopher Berry

May 2022


The property tax is the single largest source of revenue for American local governments. Cities, counties, school districts, and special districts raise roughly $500 billion per year in property taxes, accounting for 72% of local taxes and 47% of locally raised revenue (U.S. Census Bureau 2016).

Despite its centrality in U.S. municipal finance, the property tax has come under increasing scrutiny. Recent research has shown that property taxes in most jurisdictions in the United States are inequitable: low-value properties face higher tax assessments, relative to their actual sale price, than do high-value properties, resulting in regressive taxation that burdens low-income residents disproportionately (Berry 2021).

There are many potential sources of regressivity in property taxes, which fall broadly into two categories: assessor errors and policy choices. Which factors contribute most to tax inequities in any particular jurisdiction will depend on the parameters of that jurisdiction’s assessment and tax system.

This report evaluates property tax regressivity and its causes in New York City.

This paper was presented by Christopher Berry on May 6, 2022 as part of the 2021-2022 Syracuse Webinar Series on Property Tax Administration and Design.

This Syracuse-Chicago Webinar Series on Property Tax Administration and Design aims to gather insight and scholarship through domestic and international comparative studies with common threads to help reform and improve property tax administration and design in the U.S. and other countries facing similar problems.

For questions about the webinars, please contact Alyssa Kirk. For questions about this paper, please contact the author or authors.

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