Detroit Today: Taxes in Detroit, too much and not enough

Today’s guests explore the potential solutions to Detroit’s exorbitantly high property taxes, as well as the challenges in reforming the city’s tax system.

Detroit residents pay some of the highest property taxes in the state, creating a disproportionate tax burden that inhibiting economic growth.
The city’s high tax rates have contributed to Detroit’s population decline over the last several decades, creating an excess in vacant or blighted land, according to the Citizens Research Council of Michigan.

So what is a reasonable solution to the city’s high property taxes that could provide Detroit homeowners some relief and encourage homeownership in the city? Eric Lupher, president of the Citizens Research Council of Michigan, and John Mogk, a law professor at Wayne State University Law School, joined Detroit Today on Thursday to discuss the challenges in reforming Detroit’s tax system and potential solutions that could be implemented.

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Eric Lupher is the president of the Citizens Research Council of Michigan, a nonprofit research organization. He says we need a constitutional amendment allowing Detroit to have a local sales tax on commercial activities. 

“It’s not about the property tax completely, but it’s the balance,” said Lupher. “You need a three legged stool — property, income, and sales (tax). We’re missing one leg of the stool and it hurts us.” 

John Mogk is a law professor at Wayne State University Law School and has written extensively about tax reform in Detroit. He says Detroit has a poor tax system and needs to come up with better solutions. 

“If one were to, from whole cloth, design a taxing system that would be fair and supportive of the city and encourage its free development, you would not have a mix… of the taxes that we currently have,” said Mogk.

Listen to Detroit Today with host Stephen Henderson weekdays from 9-10 a.m. ET on 101.9 WDET and streaming on-demand.

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  • Detroit Today
    Dynamic and diverse voices. News, politics, community and the issues that define our region. Hosted by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Stephen Henderson, Detroit Today brings you fresh and perceptive views weekdays at 9 am and 7 pm.