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People in the Northeast and Midwest (and Texas) pay the highest property taxes


(Credit: The Urban Institute’s Brian David Moore and the Brookings Institution’s Benjamin H. Harris.)

As if you needed another reason to move to Hawaii: the Aloha State is home to the nation’s lowest average property tax, as a share of a home’s value. (In case you need a reason to avoid New Jersey: it’s home to the highest.)

Property taxes can be crucial to local governments where they account for roughly 75 percent of all tax revenue and often go to fund education. But they can also represent a variable burden to homeowners, depending on where they live. In 2011, residents of Hawaii’s Maui County paid just 0.2 percent of their home’s value in property taxes, less than anywhere else, a pair of researchers from the nonpartisan Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center write in a new report that takes a look at fresh Census data on property tax burdens. Residents of Wayne County, New York, meanwhile paid the most: 3.1 percent. Data were limited to counties with 65,000 residents or more.

Residents of 36 states paid somewhere between 0.5 percent and 1.5 percent of their home’s value in property taxes from 2007 to 2011, according to the report. In some parts of the Northeast, Midwest and Texas, rates were much higher, but it was also generally true that states with high property tax burdens tended to have few or no other local taxes, the authors found.

All told, property taxes were north of 1.5 percent of a home’s value in 11 states: Connecticut, Illinois, Michigan, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Texas, Vermont, and Wisconsin. Taxes in just three states — Hawaii, Delaware and Louisiana — were below 0.5 percent of home value.

While property taxes vary by county, most levy about $1,000 in property taxes per homeowner at a rate below one percent of their home’s value, the report concludes.

CLARIFICATION: This post previously failed to mention the Brooking Institution’s involvement with the report and misidentified the authors’ affiliation.

Niraj Chokshi is a general assignment reporter for The Washington Post.

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