How Does Your Property Tax Burden Compare?

How Does Your Property Tax Burden Compare?

Property taxes are an important source of revenue for city governments, but rates can vary substantially across the country.

Property taxes make up about one quarter of home ownership costs over the median duration of ownership, according to a study by two researchers with the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center.

The study’s authors—Benjamin H. Harris, policy director of the Hamilton Project, and Brian David Moore, a research assistant at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center—note that several counties and states have tried to decrease the burden through homestead exemptions and other laws.

But property taxes tend to make up a big part of local revenues. Indeed, property taxes comprise 34.6 percent of total local revenues, and nearly 64 percent of local own-source revenue, the researchers note.

Nationwide, 60 percent of counties in the country had an average tax burden between $500 and $1,500 per home owner. Home owners in about 13 percent of counties paid less on average, and 27 percent paid more. Only 3 percent of counties had average bills that were more than $4,000.

New York and New Jersey tend to have the highest number of counties with the highest property tax burdens. Westchester, Nassau, and Bergen counties in New York had the three highest average tax burdens, all more than $8,500. This reflects higher home prices as well as a higher reliance on property taxes by the state and local governments there.

Higher rates of property taxes are mostly found in the Northeast and parts of the Midwest, according to the researchers.

On the other hand, 24 counties had average taxes below $250, with the majority of those counties located in Alabama or Louisiana.

Source: “Role of Property Tax in Health of Housing Market,” Mortgage News Daily (Nov. 22, 2013)

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