Property Taxes by State and County: Median Property Tax Bills

Property taxes are the primary tool for local government funding and state-level revenue generation in some states as well. In fiscal year 2020, property taxes accounted for 32.2% of total state and local tax revenue in the United States, more than any other source of tax revenue. Local governments rely heavily on property taxes to fund schools, roads, police, fire and emergency medical services, and other services associated with the residence or property. Property taxes accounted for 72.2% of local tax revenue in fiscal year 2020.

Because property taxes are levied locally, it can be difficult to provide a useful comparison at the state level. So, in an effort to present a multi-faceted view, today’s blog features two property tax-focused maps. The first examines median property tax bills in each county in the United States, and the second compares effective property tax rates between states.

Median property taxes paid vary widely between (and within) the 50 states. The the lowest bills nationwide are in six counties or county equivalents with median property taxes below $200 per year:

  • Northwest Arctic Borough and Census Area of ​​Kusivlak (Alaska)*
  • Avoyelles, East Carroll and Madison (Louisiana)
  • Choctaw (Alabama)

(*Significant parts of Alaska have no property taxes, although most of these areas have populations so small that they are excluded from federal surveys.)

The second-lowest median property tax of $201 is in Allen Parish near central Louisiana, followed by $218 in McDowell County, West Virginia, in the southernmost part of Louisiana. ‘State.

The eight counties with the The highest median property tax payments all have bills over $10,000:

  • Bergen, Essex and Union (New Jersey)
  • Nassau, New York, Rockland and Westchester (New York)

All but Falls Church are near New York, as is the second highest, Passaic County, New Jersey ($9,999).

Where do people pay the most property taxes?

Median property taxes paid by county, 2020 (5-year estimate)

Note: Missing values ​​are due to small sample sizes in low population counties. This interactive map is more accessible when viewed on larger screens. Source: United States Census Bureau, 2020 American Community Survey Dataset B25103.

Below is a shareable version of the interactive map above.

Property tax payments also vary within states. In Georgia, for example, where the median property tax bill is relatively low, median taxes range from $413 in Quitman County (near the Alabama border in the southern part of the state) to 3 $185 in Fulton County (a suburb of Atlanta). This is typical among states; higher median payments tend to be concentrated in urban areas. This is partly explained by the prevalence of above-average house prices in urban cities. Since property taxes are assessed as a percentage of home values, it follows that higher property taxes are paid in places with higher housing prices. However, since millages – the amount of tax per thousand dollars of value – can be adjusted to generate the necessary revenue from a given property tax base, the higher payments also reflect a higher overall cost of the government – and proportionally higher taxes – in these areas. .

While no taxpayer in high-tax jurisdictions celebrates their annual payments, it should be noted that property taxes are largely rooted in the “benefit principle” of public finance: the people who pay the property tax bills are most often those who benefit from the services. .

Since the dollar value of property tax bills often tracks housing prices, it can be difficult to use this metric to compare states. To complicate matters further, rates don’t mean the same thing from state to state, or even county to county, as mileage is often taxed only on a percentage of the actual value of the car. property, as shown below. However, one way to compare is to look at effective tax rates on owner-occupied housing, that is, the average amount of residential property taxes actually paid, expressed as a percentage of the value of the home.

State property taxes compare state property tax filings and property tax bills

In calendar year 2020 (the most recent data available), New Jersey had the highest effective rate on owner-occupied properties at 2.21%, followed by Illinois (2.05% ) and New Hampshire (1.96%). Hawaii was at the other end of the spectrum with the lowest effective rate of 0.31%, followed closely by Alabama (0.39%) and Louisiana (0.54%).

Governments tax real estate in various ways: some tax a mileage on the fair market value of the property, while others tax it on a percentage (the appraisal ratio) of the market value. While values ​​are often determined by comparable sales, jurisdictions also vary in how they calculate assessed values. While property taxes tend to be imposed at the local level, their basic framework is generally defined by state law.

Some states have equalization requirements, ensuring uniformity across the state. Sometimes property tax limits limit how much property taxes can increase in a given year, and sometimes rate adjustments are required after assessments to ensure revenue consistency or stability. Reductions (i.e. reductions or exemptions) are often available for certain taxpayers, such as veterans or seniors. And of course, property tax rates are set not only by cities and counties, but also by school boards, fire departments, and public utility commissions.

Some states with high property taxes, such as New Hampshire and Texas, rely heavily on them instead of other major tax categories. This often involves greater devolution of authority to local governments, which are responsible for more government services than they are in states that are more dependent on state-level revenues. Other states, such as New Jersey and Illinois, impose high property taxes alongside high rates in other major tax categories.

How does your condition compare?

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