Highest and Lowest Property Taxes by County

There's a Big Difference Between the Highest and Lowest County Property Taxes

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Property taxes are the bane of many a homeowner – particularly those in areas of the Northeast, home to some of the highest property taxes in the U.S. Fox Business has reported that according to a 2013 analysis by Zillow, the 10 most expensive counties for property taxes are all in New York and New Jersey. Figures are based on the median paid for residential properties. Here’s how they break down, along with some tips for where you might want to move to pay less.

Highest Property Taxes by County

The two most expensive counties – Westchester and Rockland – are both in New York. Median taxes paid in Westchester County were $13,842 according to the Zillow analysis, followed by Rockland County at $10,550. Compare these figures with the national median that year: $2,132.

It gets a little cheaper if you live in New Jersey, but not much. The third and fourth most expensive counties on the list were Bergen and Essex in the Garden State at $9,546 and $9,288 respectively. Nassau County in New York was fifth at $9,091. Homeowners in Passaic County, New Jersey paid just a tad less: $8,978.

Union ($8,926), Morris ($8,549), Hudson ($8,407) and Hunterdon ($8,392) Counties in New Jersey bring up the rear of this dubious top 10 list.

Lowest Property Taxes by County

Head south if you want to pay less in property taxes. The median is only $216 a year in Tunica County, Mississippi.

Yes, you read that right -- $13,626 less than what residents paid in Westchester County, New York. But Mississippi isn't the state with the most counties on the least expensive top 10 list. That distinction goes to Alabama, with four counties: 

  • Bibb County -- $228
  • Walker County -- $244
  • Blount County -- $344
  • St. Clair County -- $470

Another three notably inexpensive counties are scattered about the south: Amelia County in Virginia at $358 a year, Fayette County in Tennessee at $410, and Meriwether County, Georgia at $457. Out west in Lincoln County, Oklahoma, residents pay $402 in median property taxes, ranking the county seventh on the list of the 10 least expensive.  

Butler County, Pennsylvania – ironically a state neighbor to New York and New Jersey – makes it onto the least expensive list, too, at number six. Residents here pay a median of $397 in property taxes.

Why the Big Difference?

Property taxes are based on two 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 -- a median figure is one that falls right in the middle.

Combine this with the revenues needed by these counties to keep themselves up and running. Revenues raised from property taxes typically pay for things like schools, parks, libraries, transportation infrastructures, and police departments and fire departments. So you can blame the economy in your area, at least in part, if your county made the top 10 list.