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Detroit and the Property Tax

Strategies to Improve Equity and Enhance Revenue

Gary Sands and Mark Skidmore

November 2015, English

This report outlines the problems underlying the erosion of Detroit’s property tax base—a factor that contributed to the city’s bankruptcy in 2013. It offers recommendations for reform at the local and state level, as well as insight and analysis to help policy makers across the country protect their communities from economic decline.

About the Authors

Gary Sands, AICP, is professor emeritus of urban planning at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. Prior to his academic career, Sands was a senior economist for the City of Detroit. He has been a frequent consultant on housing issues for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Michigan State, and local governments.

Mark Skidmore is professor of economics at Michigan State University, where he holds the Morris Chair in State and Local Government Finance and Policy. He currently serves as co-editor of the Journal of Urban Affairs. Skidmore has expertise in public finance and urban/regional economics. He was a visiting fellow at the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy.


Appraisal, Assessment, Economic Development, Economics, Housing, Inequality, Land Use, Land Value, Land Value Taxation, Land-Based Tax, Municipal Fiscal Health, Property Taxation, Public Finance, Public Policy, Reuse of Urban Land, Tax Reform, Taxation, Urban, Urban Development, Urban Revitalization, Valuation