Property Taxes by County: Where do People Pay the Most and Least? [Data Study]

By David Cusick

An unavoidable truth in life is taxes. If you’re a homeowner, you’re no exception. But, what you pay can vary significantly depending on where you live. So, the question is: where do people pay the highest property taxes and where do people pay the least?

With that in mind, our team at House Method conducted a study to dig into property taxes across the United States. Using the most current Census data from the American Community Survey, we compiled the median annual property tax in each U.S. county and compared it to five years ago. We also looked at the effective tax rate (the property tax divided by the value of the home) and the 5-year change for that rate. 

Here are some of our most interesting findings:

  • The average property tax increase over 5 years was 18%.
  • 8 counties pay $10,000 or more in property taxes.
  • Of the top 20 most expensive counties, 55% are in New Jersey.
  • 93% of all counties saw an increase in taxes over the last 5 years with 11 counties seeing more than double.
  • All 6 of the counties with the highest effective property tax rate are in New York or New Jersey
  • 5 counties saw there effective property tax rate double in the last 5 years.

For our full findings, check out our report below. Our study has a number of interactive maps to show our data on all 3,128 counties analyzed. You can hover over each county to view the data or use the search function on the upper-left side by typing in the county’s name.

Property Taxes by County

The interactive map above shows a visualization of how median property taxes in counties compare across the United States. The darker colors are higher dollar amounts and lighter colors are lower amounts. 

The Counties with the Highest Property Taxes

There are eight counties that are tied as the most expensive with at least $10,000 in median annual property taxes Note that the Census only tracks up to $10,000:

  • Bergen County, New Jersey
  • Essex County, New Jersey
  • Union County, New Jersey
  • Nassau County, New York
  • New York County, New York
  • Rockland County, New York
  • Westchester County, New York
  • Falls Church city, Virginia

Our data showed that the northeast and Bay Area in California have the highest concentration of the highest property taxes. In fact, 11 of the top 20 most expensive counties are in New Jersey. New York has 6 and Connecticut has 1, bringing the northeastern part of the country to 18 of the 20 most expensive. Falls Church city in Virginia and Marin County in California are the other 2 in the top 20. Every county in the top 20 has a median annual property tax of at least $7,700.

The Counties with the Least Property Taxes

Conversely, the south and parts of the midwest come in as the least expensive. Louisiana and Alabama came in as two of the states with a number of counties in the bottom 20 least expensive counties. Out of the 20, Louisiana has 10 and Alabama has 3. 

There are five counties tied for the county with the least amount of property taxes. Each of these have a median amount of $199 a year. 

  • Choctaw County, Alabama
  • Northwest Arctic Borough, Alaska
  • Avoyelles Parish, Louisiana
  • East Carroll Parish, Louisiana
  • Madison Parish, Louisiana

Next, let’s see how these taxes have changed from five years ago. 

The 5-Year Change in Property Taxes

Because home values have been soaring in recent years, we also analyzed property taxes over a five year period. The map above visualizes the percent change in annual property taxes. When you hover over each county, you can see the actual dollar change (which is also listed in the table at the end of this study). 

The average percent increase was 18% which equals about $225. 301 counties (9.7%) saw an increase of $500 or more.

One of the most interesting findings is that 11 counties more than doubled in a five-year period, and many of them are in Texas. These are the 11 counties:

  • Terrell County, Texas (167%)
  • Grant Parish, Louisiana (125%)
  • Upton County, Texas (121%)
  • Borden County, Texas (121%)
  • Petroleum County, Montana (115%)
  • Zavala County, Texas (111%)
  • Kent County, Texas (110%)
  • McMullen County, Texas (108%)
  • Webster County, Georgia (104%)
  • Garfield County, Montana (104%)
  • Stevens County, Kansas (101%)

Of the 3,128 counties analyzed, 93% saw an increase in property taxes with 5% having an increase of 40% or more. 6% of all counties saw a decrease and 1% had no increase.

Effective Property Tax Rate by County

Next, we looked at how home values played into how much counties are paying in property taxes. What we analyzed is the median property tax divided by the median home value to calculate an effective tax rate. As in, this is how much of the home’s value are residents paying in taxes each year. 

The Counties with the Highest Effective Rates

We found that the states and areas with the highest amount of property taxes also had some of the highest effective tax rates. Meaning, homeowners in New Jersey and New York are likely to both pay the most dollars but also pay the highest rates. Here are the highest 22 counties (9 are tied for the final position):

  • Camden County, New Jersey (3.5%)
  • Orleans County, New York (3.2%)
  • Allegany County, New York (3.2%)
  • Monroe County, New York (3.1%)
  • Salem County, New Jersey (3.0%)
  • Gloucester County, New Jersey (3.0%)
  • Cortland County, New York (2.9%)
  • Passaic County, New Jersey (2.8%)
  • DeKalb County, Illinois (2.8%)
  • Atlantic County, New Jersey (2.8%)
  • Cattaraugus County, New York (2.8%)
  • Winnebago County, Illinois (2.8%)
  • Onondaga County, New York (2.8%)
  • Schenectady County, New York (2.7%)
  • Lake County, Illinois (2.7%)
  • Cheshire County, New Hampshire (2.7%)
  • McHenry County, Illinois (2.7%)
  • Kendall County, Illinois (2.7%)
  • Sullivan County, New Hampshire (2.7%)
  • Sussex County, New Jersey (2.7%)
  • Warren County, New Jersey (2.7%)
  • Broome County, New York (2.7%)

The Counties with the Lowest Effective Rates

Looking at the counties who are taxes the least on the value of their homes, there are 6 all with a 0.1% rate. Two are in Louisiana, 2 are in Alaska, 1 is in Nevada, and 1 in North Dakota.

  • Concordia Parish, Louisiana
  • Eureka County, Nevada
  • East Feliciana Parish, Louisiana
  • Denali Borough, Alaska
  • Sioux County, North Dakota
  • Northwest Arctic Borough, Alaska

After that, there are a whopping 42 counties all with a 0.2% effective property tax rate. 18 counties (43% of the 42 counties) are in Louisiana and 15 are in Alabama (36%).

The 5-Year Change in Effective Property Tax Rates

Similar to how we analyzed how the median amount of property taxes changed over the last five years, we looked at how the effective property tax rates alternated over the same time period. The map above visualizes the percent change. If you hover over each county, you can see the numerical change as well (the current rate minus the old rate).

There are 5 counties with a percent change of over 100%:

  • Garfield County, Montana (230%)
  • Catron County, New Mexico (214%)
  • McPherson County, Nebraska (213%)
  • Stevens County, Kansas (174%)
  • Loup County, Nebraska (110%)

Unlike how almost every county saw an increase in the amount of property taxes in dollars, most counties saw a decrease in effective real estate tax rates. Of the 3,128 counties analyzed, 1741 (56%) saw a decrease in their rates. 1,274 (41%) saw an increase and 100 (3%) saw no increase. 

Below is a table with our full data set. The table is both sortable by clicking on any of the column headers and searchable by typing in the box in the upper left.

 

Final Thoughts

Our study shows that property taxes vary significantly from state to state and county to county, both the amount paid and the effective rate. The northeast and parts of California, Texas, and Illinois all have some of the highest. The south and parts of the midwest tend to be on the lower end. Additionally, there have been significant changes in the past 5 years as home values have risen.

However, if you’re a homeowner, no matter where you live you’ll still have a tax bill to pay! We hope our study helps our readers understand how where they live stacks up against the rest of the United States.

Methodology

We analyzed data for every county in the U.S. Census American Community Survey from 2020 and 2015 (5-year averages). The 2020 dataset was used as that is the most current dataset available. Using that data, we analyzed:

  • Median property (real estate) taxes paid by homeowners with and without mortgages
  • Median home value of homes with and without mortgages

Using the data, we were able to compile and effective property tax rate by dividing the median property taxes paid by the media home values. Note that the Census does not give the specific median for any property taxes in excess of $10,000 in a county.

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