This year Mayor de Blasio will pay $3,581 in property taxes on each of two row houses he owns in ultra-gentrified Park Slope. The city says his properties are worth about $1.6 million apiece.
Some 14 miles away, in middle-class Laurelton, Queens, Arthur Russell, 66, who retired from computer sales, will pay a property tax bill that, at $4,569, is about 28% higher than the mayor’s — even though the city says his single-family home is worth 75% less than de Blasio’s properties, at $396,000.
If Russell were taxed like the mayor, his bill would fall by roughly $3,500 a year.
“That money could be vacation money,” said Russell, who is African-American. “It’s a substantial amount. My frustration is that it’s blatant abuse. People, if you take a look at this thing, you see disparity.”
Across the five boroughs, the city Department of Finance is subjecting tens of thousands of homeowners to similarly unequal billing — with the winners located primarily in upscale neighborhoods like Williamsburg, Brooklyn Heights and Greenwich Village and the losers located overwhelmingly in working- and middle-class neighborhoods like South Jamaica, East New York and Brownsville.
Often, the brunt falls most heavily on black or Hispanic property owners.
A coalition called Tax Equity Now NY, which includes the NAACP, the Black Institute, several landlords and homeowners, has teamed up with lawyers from the firm Latham & Watkins, including former Chief Judge Jonathan Lippmann, to file a class-action suit this week charging that the DNA of the city’s property tax system is racially biased and favors the affluent over the working- and middle-class.?