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Detroit may tax land more than buildings to spur development of vacant sites

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Detroit may tax land more than buildings to spur development of vacant sites

The plan may also lower taxes for many homeowners.


By Peter Fabris, Contributing Editor | January 12, 2024
Image by Brandon W from Pixabay
Image by Brandon W from Pixabay

The City of Detroit is considering a revamp of how it taxes property to encourage development of more vacant lots.

The land-value tax has rarely been tried in the U.S., but versions of it have been adopted in many other countries. The concept taxes land at a higher rate than any buildings or amenities on the property.

This is a departure from the typical way real estate is taxed in the U.S.—totaling the assessed value of land, buildings, and any other improvements on a property and taxing the total at a uniform rate. The alternative that Detroit may adopt is intended to incentivize development on blighted lots and offer tax relief to homeowners, who are subject to some of the highest rates in the country.

Detroit’s mayor hopes to implement the land-value tax in 2025. Voters will ultimately decide the matter as soon as this November.

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