Counties in the U.S. with the Highest (and Lowest) Property Taxes

Last Updated May 18, 2011 9:11 AM EDT

New Jersey and New York homeowners are stuck with the costliest property tax bills in the country. But hightailing it to regions with the lowest property tax bite would require extreme relocation: Alaska and Louisiana are the nation's property tax havens.

The Tax Foundation sliced and diced new Census property tax data for more than 2,922 U.S. counties. The data is a five-year average from 2005-2009, capturing both boom and bust.

Who Pays the Most in Property Tax
The median national annual tax bill for 2005-2009 was $1,805 but homeowners in the costliest counties shelled out more than four times as much:

1. Hunterdon County, N.J. ($8,216 annual median)

2. Nassau County, N.Y. ($8,206)

3. Westchester County, N.Y. ($8,160)

4. Bergen County, N.J. ($7,925)

5. Rockland County, N.Y. ($7,676)


Who Pays the Least in Property Tax
2922. Bethel, Alaska ($105)

2920. Northwest Arctic, Alaska ($108)

2920. (tied) Aleutians East Borough, Alaska ($108)

2918. Tensas Parish, Louisiana ($109)

2918 (tied) Southeast Fairbanks, Alaska ($109)

Of course, between those two lists there's a huge divergence in not just home values, but also household income. So it's useful to look at this from a few other vantage points. For example, the national average annual property tax as a percentage of a home's value was 0.97 percent from 2005-2009. Based on the numbers below, it's a fair bet to say New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's proposal to cap local property tax rates might be sort of popular:


Highest Property Tax as Percent of Home Value
1. Orleans County, N.Y. (3.05 percent)

2. Niagara County, N.Y. (2.87)

3. Monroe County, N.Y. (2.81)

4. Allegany County, N.Y. (2.77)

5. Montgomery County, N.Y. (2.72)


Lowest Property Tax as a Percent of Home Value
2922. Southeast Fairbanks, Alaska (.07 percent)

2921. Hoonah-Angoon, Alaska (.07)

2920. Northwest Arctic, Alaska (.08)

2919. Prince of Wales-Hyder, Alaska (.08)

2918. Bethel, Alaska (.09)

No surprise that with its miniscule property tax levies, Alaska also does a clean sweep of the five areas that have the lowest property tax as a percentage of median household income. The five Alaska areas that dominate that list have a property tax-to-income ratio of 0.20 percent or less. That's just 1/14th the national average of 2.81 percent. Looking at property tax by that measure, once again New Jersey and New York are at the other costly extreme:

Where Property Tax Eats Up the Most Household Income:
1. Passaic County, N.J. (8.4 percent)

2. Essex County, N.J. (8.0)

3. Nassau County, N.Y. (8.0 )

4. Bergen County, N.J. (7.8)

5. Union County, N.J. (7.8)

You can noodle around with the Tax Foundation's property tax tool to see how your county rates, or size up where the relocation/retirement might be least costly. If you've noticed that your tax bill hasn't gone down along with your property value the past few years, but you haven't done much about it, perhaps this is the kick in the pants you need to challenge your property tax assessment.


Property Taxes in the Most Populous Counties

No disrespect to Alaska, but I was curious how property taxes shake out where the most people live. Below is a rundown of property tax burdens for the 10 most populous U.S. counties. For the rankings, lower is better; for example 2922 is the least expensive, 1 is the most expensive. Maricopa County in Arizona (Phoenix) has the cheapest property tax bite relative to household income among the 10 most populous counties. Cook County Il. (Chicago) is the costliest.

(Ranked by population)
Los Angeles County, CA:
  • $2,770 median annual property tax
  • Property tax relative to home value rank: 2235
  • Property tax relative to household income rank: 321.
Cook County, IL
  • $3,437 median property tax
  • Property tax relative to home value rank: 653
  • Property tax relative to household income rank: 77
Harris County, TX
  • $2,778 median property tax
  • Property tax relative to home value rank: 42
  • Property tax relative to household income rank: 204
Maricopa County, AZ
  • $1,346 median property tax
  • Property tax relative to home value rank: 2140
  • Property tax relative to household income rank: 1351

San Diego County, CA
  • $2,747 median property tax
  • Property tax relative to home value rank: 2223
  • Property tax relative to household income rank: 396
Orange County, CA
  • $3,151 median property tax
  • Property tax relative to home value rank: 2340
  • Property tax relative to household income rank: 355

Kings County, NY
  • $2,580 median property tax
  • Property tax relative to home value rank: 2563
  • Property tax relative to household income rank: 310
Miami-Dade County, FL.
  • $2,600 median property tax
  • Property tax relative to home value rank: 1208
  • Property tax relative to household income rank: 119
Dallas County, TX
  • $2,640 median property tax
  • Property tax relative to home value rank: 49
  • Property tax relative to household income rank: 174

Queens County, NY
  • $2,609 median property tax
  • Property tax relative to home value rank: 2133
  • Property tax relative to household income rank: 290

Photo courtesy Flickr user taberandrew


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