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Big Brains

May 20, 2021

When’s the last time you thought about property taxes? We mostly accept them as a part of society, and assume that they’re being calculated fairly. But a leading University of Chicago scholar says that assumption is wrong.

A breakthrough study from Prof. Christopher Berry has shown that, on average, homeowners in the bottom 10% of a jurisdiction pay an effective tax rate that is double of what’s paid by the top 10%. Essentially, the poorest homeowners are subsidizing the richest, with disproportion effects on people of color who own property. We talk with Berry about why this happening, how it’s affecting communities—and what we can do about it.