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