A study released by the City Controller's office yesterday contained troubling news about AVI assessments: namely, that they were unfair, and that unfair tax burdens fell disproportionately on homeowners of lower-value homes, and zipcodes with relatively greater populations of Black residents according to 2010 Census data.
The study found that the unfairness of AVI asessments was correlated to the racial makeup of property zipcodes:
Using 5 digit zip codes of residential properties, both 2013 and proposed 2014 median levels of assessment show that as zip code areas become more African American, the median level of residential assessment rises, and that as zip code areas become more Caucasian, the median level of residential assessment falls. This is a statistically significant result for residential properties.
The study also found that properties with lower values were assessed at disproportionately high levels:
In both actual 2013 and proposed 2014 residential assessed values, there is statistically significant evidence that more expensive taxable residential properties, as measured by the OPA determined sales.
Economist Kevin Gillen contended that AVI would actually reduce the disproportionate tax burden on neighborhoods with lower property values in an interview with WHYY on Wednesday. Gillen also attributed inaccuracies in property assessments to old data and guesswork: the Office of Property Assessments is often working with out-of-date information, and assessors aren't allowed inside homes, so they are sometimes left to guess.
In sum: The only thing clear about AVI at this point is that it's clear as mud.
· Analysis: AVI makes assessments even less accurate, impacts African-Americans more [Naked City]
· Economist: Sound Philadelphia tax policy depends on AVI [NewsWorks]
· A Sales Ratio Study of the City of Philadelphia's 2013 Certified and 2014 Proposed Real Estate Assessments [Philadelphia Controller's Office]