NYC property-tax system under fire as discrimination suit filed

Lawsuit poses first serious challenge to tax set-up in years

Lucas Ferrara
Lucas Ferrara

A class-action lawsuit filed yesterday alleges that the city’s property-tax system discriminates against African-American and Hispanics who live in rental properties.

Those New Yorkers pay higher taxes — due to high rates on rental properties — than condominiums, co-ops and single-family homes that are largely owned by white and/or Asian people, the suit said. The suit claims the $20 billion, 33-year-old system is unconstitutional and violates the anti-discrimination provisions of the Federal Fair Housing Act. Hispanics and African-Americans jointly comprise more than half of all renters, but occupy roughly 32 percent of single-family homes, 27 percent co-ops and 20 percent of condos.

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“For too long, this has been a reverse Robin Hood where the government has been taking from the poor to subsidize the rich,” Lucas Ferrara, an attorney with real estate law firm Newman Ferrara LLP representing the plaintiffs, told the Wall Street Journal.

The city and state declined to comment to the Journal until it reviews the suit. [WSJ]Mark Maurer