The Collapse Of An American City – Nearly Half Of Detroit’s Property Owners Don’t Pay Taxes

February 22, 2013 5:13 pmViews: 4290

Detroit residents not paying property taxes


It is hard to believe that throughout the 1950s, 60s and 70s Detroit Michigan was the car making capital of the entire world. Growing up in the 60s and 70s myself and admiring the muscle cars of that era it was well understood all of those vehicles came from Detroit as it was affectionately known as The Motor City. That of course, is no longer the case as Detroit is suffering a slow agonizing death.

The hundred of thousands of automobile workers employed at the some 25 assembly plants in the Detroit metro area built between 1947 and 1958, have dwindled to a few thousand today. In 1950 Detroit had a population of nearly 1.8 million, now, only 704,000 people are residents of the city. And of the 305,000 properties in the city, the owners of 143,600 of them are not paying their taxes. That's a staggering 47% of property owners who are delinquent on their taxes amounting to $246 million owed to the city, Wayne county, public schools and the library system.

Residents are so frustrated with lack of city services that they have simply decided they will no longer pay taxes and the impossibility of city workers foreclosing on the massive amount of delinquent properties, all 143,000 of them, have left the once proud Motor City in a death spiral. There really isn't a way out of the cycle Detroit finds itself in since residents are not paying taxes they owe because of a lack of services and obviously the city can't provide those services without the much needed tax revenue.

The city has become such a dying hulk of what it once used to be, in one area equaling a total of 77 blocks, there is only a single person paying their property taxes. Of course many are now questioning if Detroit will even be able to survive as the more people become delinquent, the less services police, fire, trash pick up and the like will be able to provide.

The feeling of many resident is summed up below from the DetroitNews.com:

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."

Across town, Lee has dutifully paid his nearly $4,000 annual bill despite believing it's too much. His stately brick Tudor in the University District is assessed at $53,810, meaning the city pegs its market value at $107,620. A recent appraisal he paid for found the house was worth $35,000.

"It was my commitment to seeing the city working," said Lee, 67, a consultant who has lived there since 1982. "I know our difficulty is we are still operating like we have a million people. We have to have somebody to support that. … But it's not fair that such a small percentage is paying."

Of course this is a sad story of America's decline that we will never hear about on any network news programs such as ABC, CBS, and NBC because it simply doesn't fit the mold and the perception of the made up economic recovery the current administration is trying to push on us. Surprisingly though, nearly 75 percent of voters in Wayne County, which includes Detroit, voted for Barack Obama during last year's election. While the decline of Detroit has happened over some 3 decades, somehow residents of Detroit were hooked into believing four more years of Obama would be better than four years of Romney.

We have to wonder what Detroit area voters will think and the city, if it even exists, will look like in those next 4 years.

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