We Don’t Like These Curves: What Is the J-Curve and What Is It Costing You?

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Simply put, the J-Curve shows that expensive homes are being undervalued, while less expensive homes are being overvalued in their property tax assessments. It’s a phenomenon occurring across the nation (learn more here); and in truth, these curves are costing us a lot financially and physically.

Property taxes are the number one source where local governments collect funds for public investments such as schools, public hospitals, and parks. The United States raises around $500 billion in property taxes every year, much of it coming from neighborhoods with smaller, cheaper homes. In Cook County Illinois, from 2011 to 2015, inequities in property assessment resulted in the improper billing of $2.2 billion in property taxes.

When the J-Curve is present, we are overburdening some individuals (potentially affecting their stress levels and health), while simultaneously losing out on thousands of dollars that could be used to better our cities and increase community morale. 

We don’t like these curves because they show people are being overcharged in their property taxes, potentially causing unnecessary stress that may be affecting their health, and the functionality of their communities.

The property tax assessment system is flawed throughout the nation, and we’re working to change that. The Just Accounting for Health consortium, which includes Strong Towns, is collecting data and researching the potential causes and health effects of property tax inequities in Western North Carolina and suggesting solutions to flatten the J-Curve. Check out the website to stay involved and learn ways to start creating a change in your community.

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