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Half of Detroilet property owners don’t pay taxes

Home - by - February 21, 2013 - 15:20 America/New_York - 15 Comments


Detroit — Nearly half of the owners of Detroit’s 305,000 properties  failed to pay their tax bills last year, exacerbating a punishing cycle of  declining revenues and diminished services for a city in a financial crisis,  according to a Detroit News analysis of government records.

The News reviewed more than 200,000 pages of tax documents and found that 47  percent of the city’s taxable parcels are delinquent on their 2011 bills. Some  $246.5 million in taxes and fees went uncollected, about half of which was due  Detroit and the rest to other entities, including Wayne County, Detroit Public  Schools and the library.

Delinquency is so pervasive that 77 blocks had only one owner who paid taxes  last year, The News found. Many of those who don’t pay question why they should  in a city that struggles to light its streets or keep police on them.

“Why pay taxes?” asked Fred Phillips, who owes more than $2,600 on his home  on an east-side block where five owners paid 2011 taxes. “Why should I send them  taxes when they aren’t supplying services? It is sickening. … Every time I see  the tax bill come, I think about the times we called and nobody came.”

This week, a state-appointed review team concluded the city can’t fix its  financial problems. Any emergency manager appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder would  have to grapple with a broken property tax system. The city’s share of  uncollected taxes last year was $131 million — an amount equal to 12 percent of  Detroit’s general fund budget.

A four-month News investigation found:

Detroit has the highest property taxes among big cities nationwide and relies  on assessments that are seriously inflated. Many houses are assessed at more  than 10 times their market price, according to new research from two Michigan  professors.

Detroit relies on a shrinking sliver of businesses and neighborhoods  to pay the bulk of the bills. The three casinos, General Motors Corp., DTE  Energy, Chrysler Group LLC and Marathon Petroleum Corp. paid 19 percent of  collected property taxes. Five city neighborhoods, most of them downtown and  along the river, paid 15 percent of the city’s taxes and represent only 2  percent of the city’s total parcels. In all, only 41 percent of the city’s  parcels produced tax revenues last year because of delinquencies and a large  number of tax-exempt land.

Detroit’s delinquencies are so pervasive that some owners have been allowed  to keep their property even if they don’t pay taxes. Wayne County treasury  officials are so overwhelmed by foreclosures that they ignored about 40,000  delinquent Detroit properties that should have been seized last year and said  they will look the other way on about 36,000 this year.

Lou Schimmel, Pontiac’s emergency financial manager, said Detroit needs to  fix its property tax system — and fast.

“It’s broken,” Schimmel said. “It has to be fixed. You need the revenue.”

“It’s just plain simple. Your revenues are falling so fast you can’t afford  to provide basic services.”

Frustrated by the system

Leola Wesley questions what services she gets for her taxes. Bill Lee pays  out of his civic duty. Both are frustrated by the system.

Wesley paid $810 last year for her snug home near Chalmers. She was the only  resident on her 32-parcel block who paid.

“It makes me not want to pay,” said Wesley, 85, who would move from her home  of more than 20 years if she could afford it. “If nobody else is paying, why  should I?”

A streetlight on her corner is out. Potholes are deep. She lives next to two  vacant lots and rarely sees police patrol her block.

“There are so many empty houses, there’s nobody to pay,” Wesley said. “I’d  like to know what is going to be the solution.”

MORE  http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20130221/METRO01/302210375


  1. Maudie N Mandeville

    February 21st, 2013

    Hey, 47% deadbeats! Where’ve I heard that before?

    “There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what … who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims. … These are people who pay no income tax. … and so my job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”

    Except in Detroit’s case, it was 98%.

    Thumb up +6

  2. Diann

    February 21st, 2013



    Thumb up +8

  3. Maudie N Mandeville

    February 21st, 2013

    “It was my commitment to seeing the city working,” said Lee, 67, a consultant who has lived there since 1982. But it’s not fair that such a small percentage is paying.”

    and I’ll bet he’s a Democrat. You haven’t hit your fair share yet, Lee.

    What’s the word….oh ya, RACIST! GREED!!

    Thumb up +3

  4. RightWinger

    February 21st, 2013

    LOL, the question asked…”“There are so many empty houses, there’s nobody to pay,” Wesley said. “I’d like to know what is going to be the solution.”

    You want to know the inevitable solution to Detroit? You ever see the movie “Mad Max beyond Thunderdome”? There’s the solution that is coming your way whether you like it or not.

    Thumb up +4

  5. scr_north

    February 21st, 2013

    Maybe Gov. Snyder will do something this time and take over the city’s finances. The Dems running the joint have shown that they can’t handle the job in good times or in bad and should be made to sit back on their hands and let someone else take control. It would be a painful process but if the Dems are kept away for four or five years the city could turn around. Then of course, the keys would be handed back to the inmates who’ll proceed to destroy all the good that was done.

    Thumb up +3

  6. Maudie N Mandeville

    February 21st, 2013

    From the article: ‘The Detroit department that assesses properties is under fire for waste and missing cash. Its two top officers work two days a week and each stands to make more than $100,000 this year.’

    Two days, hell that’s one day less than the French tire unions.

    Detroit- 98% Obama

    Thumb up +7

  7. listingstarboard

    February 21st, 2013

    The solution will be for the Federal Government to bail Detroit out with Taxpayer money from other States. Same with California and Illinois, wait and see.

    Thumb up +4

  8. Stranded in Sonoma

    February 21st, 2013

    At first, the statement about not paying taxes because there are no services sounds kind of stupid. If they paid taxes, the services would be there.

    Then you realize we are talking about Detroit and you know that no matter how much money those thieving scum democrats get, they will waste or abscond with it. Just look at the Wikipedia page for Kwame Kilpatrick. The section I linked to is quite lengthy and also quite typical of Detroit politicians.

    Detroilet indeed!

    Thumb up +2

  9. thirdtwin

    February 21st, 2013

    I’m sure the muslims just down the road in Dearbornistan have a plan to save Doitrot, but the indigenous layabouts and the new urban pioneer hipsters are not going to like Sharia Empowerment Zones very much.

    Thumb up +3

  10. serfer62

    February 21st, 2013

    The Kommiecrat delima solution is, as always, collect more taxes. Not one word of cutting bloated govorment which has a city employee for every 3 paying or non-taxpaying resident.

    I say, burn it down
    What! Did that already? Hmmmm

    Thumb up +2

  11. Unruly Refugee

    February 21st, 2013

    Detroit stands as the #1 most dangerous city in the U.S.
    Pine Bluff, Arkansas is #2.

    And no, it’s not the white minority that makes them dangerous cities, even though all whites are obviously racist. /sarc

    Thumb up +1

  12. Cruisin Cat

    February 21st, 2013

    “what is going to be the solution?”
    Simple! Import muslimes to enhabit destroyit.
    Hell, it’s at least half the hellhole that any of the places they come from are!
    They’ll think they’re in allah’s (spit) heaven!

    Thumb up +1

  13. [...] and 47 percent of Detroit property owners aren’t actually paying their [...]

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  14. Chieftain

    February 21st, 2013

    “The city’s share of uncollected taxes last year was $131 million — an amount equal to 12 percent of Detroit’s general fund budget.”

    Consider that the City of Detroit owes it’s pension fund $14 BILLION dollars.

    Fourteen BILLION Dollars. Just for the pension fund.

    Detroit is hopeless. Cheaper to evacuate and burn it.

    Thumb up +1

  15. [...] and 47 percent of Detroit property owners aren’t actually paying their [...]

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