Highest and Lowest Property Taxes in 2019, by State and County
There's a Huge Difference Between Highest and Lowest Property Tax Areas
Property taxes are the bane of many homeowners, particularly those who live in certain areas of the Northeast—home to some of the highest property taxes in the United States. Tax-Rates.org tagged New Jersey and New York as having some of the highest property taxes in 2019, and it included New Hampshire, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Texas as well.
The Highest Property Taxes by County
Three of the most expensive counties—Westchester at $9,003 a year, Rockland at $8,268 a year, and Nassau at $8,711 a year—are in New York.
It gets a little cheaper if you live in New Jersey, but not by much. The most expensive county here is Hunterdon at $8,523, followed by Union County at $6,579, Morris County at $7,707, and Bergen County at $8,489.
To put this in perspective, compare these figures to counties in the other "high" property tax states. The average in Lake County, Illinois is $6,285, followed by Hillsborough County, New Hampshire at $4,839, Dane County, Wisconsin at $4,149, and Fort Bend County, Texas at $4,260.
Lowest Property Taxes by County
Head south if you want to pay less in property taxes. The median was less than a dollar a year in Tunica County, Mississippi, in 2019. Yes, you read that right—$9,003 less than what residents pay in Westchester County, New York.
But Mississippi isn't the state with the greatest number of counties on the least expensive list. That distinction goes to Alabama, with four:
- Bibb County: $210
- Walker County: $232
- Blount County: $352
- St. Clair County: $391
Another three notably inexpensive counties are scattered about the south: Amelia County in Virginia at $691 a year, Fayette County in Tennessee at $746, and Meriwether County, Georgia, at $710. Out west in Lincoln County, Oklahoma, residents pay $479 in median property taxes.
Butler County, Pennsylvania—a state neighbor to New York and New Jersey—makes it onto the least expensive list, too. But being in the Northeast, residents here pay a bit more: a median of $2,035 in property taxes, but still much less than their neighboring homeowners over state lines.
Property Tax Rates by State
Another way to look at this is to consider the median property tax rates per state. As of 2019, the highest state rates ranked like this:
- New Jersey: 1.89%
- New Hampshire: 1.86%
- Texas: 1.81%
- Nebraska: 1.76%
- Wisconsin: 1.76%
New York is notably absent from this list at a state-wide median tax rate of 1.23% , most likely because other, much less expensive counties balance those near New York City with their sky-high taxes.
The five states with the lowest tax rates include:
- District of Columbia: .46%
- Delaware: .43%
- Alabama: .33%
- Hawaii: .26%
- Louisiana: .18%
Why the Big Difference?
Property taxes are based on two separate components: a home’s assessed value and the county’s tax rate. When a county is home to a lot of high-priced real estate, it can affect median calculations because a median figure is one that falls right in the middle.
Additionally, tax rates are percentages of value, so even in a county with a reasonable .25% property tax rate, .25% of $1 million works out to a whole lot more than .25% of $100,000. Areas with steep real estate values naturally rank higher in annual property tax bills than those where moderately priced real estate is more the norm.
Combine this with the revenues needed by these counties to keep themselves up and running, which is commonly how tax rates are determined. Revenues raised from property taxes typically pay for things like schools, parks, libraries, transportation infrastructures, police departments, and fire departments. So you can blame the economy in your area, at least in part, if your county or state made the list of the most expensive.