Explore NYC's property taxes with my new interactive map
Do you know your home’s property tax bill?
I'm excited to launch a unique data visualization on Sidewalk Chorus: an interactive map to demystify New York City’s property taxes. In my recent deep-dives, I’ve found that very few New Yorkers know how unfair and regressive the city’s property tax system is. That’s in part because the system is very complex, and in part because most New Yorkers either rent or pay tax through a co-op. My hope is that this map will incite pressure for property tax reform that will foster the construction of more homes — and help lower the cost of living for all New Yorkers.
What this map is
The NYC Property Tax Map leverages official data from New York's government, visualizing the tax levied on each city property. As far as I know, it's the first map of its kind offering New Yorkers an easy way to view and compare property tax bills.
Upon opening the map, you'll find New York City represented by dots, each indicating a property in the area. Each dot is color-coded: red for high tax rates and green for low tax rates. Search for an address or click on a dot to see details like its owner, the latest annual tax bill, and the property’s market value as estimated by the NYC Department of Finance.
See the map in action here:
The map also allows you to draw comparisons between properties. For example, let’s take a look at a couple of pop culture properties in Manhattan’s West Village:
The iconic Friends apartment at 90 Bedford Street faces a yearly property tax bill of $306,598. Given the city’s estimate that the building is worth $6,589,000 in total, that means the building’s effective tax rate of 4.65% is higher than 74% of taxable residential properties with 4+ units. The friends’ landlord is getting unusually heavily taxed.
Taylor Swift’s former residence at 23 Cornelia Street, which inspired her song “Cornelia Street”, incurs $61,602 in property tax annually. Given the city’s estimate that the property is worth $10,261,000, the property’s effective tax rate of just 0.60% is lower than 73% of taxable residential properties with 3 or fewer units. Sounds like Taylor’s landlord was getting a great deal!
Try the map (it’s mobile-friendly too) and see how your home's property taxes stack up.
Why New York needs a tax map
I’ve delved deeply into New York’s property tax system in recent months. In simple terms, New York's property tax approach is unfair and overly complex, often taxing less affluent individuals at higher rates than the wealthy. The system charges higher tax rates on large apartment buildings than single-family homes. This disincentivizes the construction of dense housing that could be home to more New Yorkers and reduce the cost of living for everyone – including renters.
Here are some recent posts I’ve written on the topic:
Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like there’s any legislative action underway to tackle New York’s property tax problems. Despite widespread consensus among key city and state lawmakers, and a detailed reform proposal in late 2021 from a city commission focused on the topic, progress appears to have stalled.
My assessment is that tax reform isn’t making progress primarily because few New Yorkers are asking their legislators for change. And New Yorkers aren’t calling for reform primarily because they’re not aware of the problem. Do you know how much property tax was levied on your home last year?
I’ve built the NYC Property Tax Map to help fill that information void and bring more data to the conversation. All of the city’s property tax data is already publicly available on the website of the Department of Finance, but it’s really clunky to access and requires searching each address one at a time. My map makes it trivially easy to look up the property taxes of any address, compare its tax bill to its neighbors and city averages, and share the results with friends.
One big caveat with the map is that the city’s “market value” estimates are often out-of-line with how much a property would actually sell for on the open market. In particular, state law requires that the city use a valuation method for class 2 properties (residential buildings with four or more units) that routinely results in undervaluation, especially for high-end properties. This can artificially inflate the effective tax rate for these undervalued properties, which makes comparing tax rates between properties in different tax classes difficult.
To address this, I added a tax rate percentile to the map, which allows you to compare a property to other properties in the same tax class. This isn’t perfect, but it helps to somewhat mitigate the effect of properties in different classes getting valued differently.
Interestingly, the city’s Department of Finance has produced much more realistic valuation estimates for each property as part of their work to support the 2021 NYC Advisory Commission on Property Tax Reform. The commission used this data to produce aggregate charts showing how the city’s property value “estimates” compare to the properties’ real values. I requested access to this modeling from the Department of Finance, but my request was refused.
Adopting a uniform valuation approach across residential properties is one of the major recommendations of the commission – which has yet to be taken up by the state legislature.
I’ve now compiled a detailed dataset of the tax situation of every property in the city. I’ll use this to generate district-by-district analyses of property tax levies and publish that information here. I’ll then reach out to community boards, city council members, state assembly members, and state senators asking them to take action to craft a fairer property tax system that promotes housing affordability and abundance for all New Yorkers.
Find your home on the map, dig deeper into property tax, and consider reaching out to your elected representatives to let them know that you too care about property tax reform. Comment below, too, if you spot any particularly crazy tax bills in the dataset.
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