Highest and Lowest Property Taxes by State and County

There's a Huge Difference Between the Highest and Lowest Property Tax Regions

Empire State Building at Sunset in New York City, where property taxes are high.
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Sylvain Sonnet / Stone / Getty Images

Property taxes are an important revenue source for state and local governments, and many couldn't thrive without them. In the U.S., property taxes make up 31% of all state and local tax revenue—more than any other tax revenue source aside from sales and gross receipts.

Of course, someone has to pay those taxes that become state and local revenue. For homeowners, property taxes can become a major expense, but the tax burden isn't the same everywhere. Let's look at how these tax rates break down.

The Highest Property Taxes by County

While it can help to consider state averages, property taxes are typically set at the county level. Therefore, looking at specific counties will give you a better sense of how high property taxes can actually get. ATTOM Data Solutions reports that the counties with the highest effective tax rate as of 2020 were:

  • Alcona County, Michigan (5.53%)
  • Allegany County, New York (3.48%)
  • Salem County, New Jersey (3.40%)
  • Oswego County, New York (3.32%)
  • Camden County, New Jersey (3.14%)

Property taxes are typically higher in metropolitan areas with big cities. However, the higher home values in these areas can sometimes reduce the effective property tax rate.

Lowest Property Taxes by County

The lowest effective property taxes aren't found in one region but are spread across middle American and the Northeast. Here are the five counties with the lowest property taxes (relative to home value):

  • Benzie County, Michigan (0.02%)
  • Montgomery County, Kansas (0.10%)
  • Benton County, Missouri (0.10%)
  • Blair County, Pennsylvania (0.11%)
  • Angelina County, Texas (0.14%)

Property Tax Rates by State

Another way to look at this is to consider the median property tax rates per state.

States With the Highest Property Taxes

According to ATTOM Data, the states with the highest effective property tax rates in 2020 were:

  • New Jersey (2.2%)
  • Illinois (2.18%)
  • Texas (2.15%)
  • Vermont (1.97%)
  • Connecticut (1.92%)

New York is notably absent from this list, despite its famously high costs of living. There are two reasons for this.

First, it's calculated as a statewide average, so any outlier counties with high tax rates could be offset by other counties with lower rates. Second, these figures are effective tax rates that take into account the value of the home. Therefore, a shockingly high dollar value of property taxes somewhere like New York City could become less shocking as you consider the price of the homes that those taxes apply to.

States With the Lowest Property Taxes

The lowest effective tax rates in 2020 were:

  • Hawaii (0.37%)
  • Alabama (0.44%)
  • West Virginia (0.51%)
  • Colorado (0.54%)
  • Utah (0.54%)

Causes for the Differences

Property taxes are based on two separate components: a home's assessed value and the county's tax rate. When a county includes 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. A county might have a 0.25% property tax rate, but 0.25% of $1 million works out to a lot more than 0.25% 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, and those counties need revenue to keep themselves up and running.

Revenues raised from property taxes typically pay for things like schools, parks, libraries, transportation infrastructures, police departments, and fire departments.

Although some states have very low property taxes, they tend to make up for this lack of revenue in different ways, such as higher personal income tax or sales tax. 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.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Which states have the lowest property taxes?

Hawaii, Alabama, West Virginia, Colorado, and Utah have the lowest effective property taxes (property tax rates relative to home values). The lowest effective property taxes by county aren't specific to one region, either.

Which states do not have property tax?

Some states do not have income tax, but all states have some level of property tax. The rate varies widely based on a state's cost of living and the degree to which it relies on property taxes to cover essential expenses.

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