Property Tax Burdens Across the State

In a study released this fall by the state’s Legislative and Budget Finance Committee (LBFC) there is an additional look at the data produced by the Tax Foundation that we wrote about in a blog in late September. That data focused on counties with more than 65k population and, using data from the American Community Survey (self-reported), determined property tax burdens for residents of those counties. Trying to paint the picture of a typical homeowner, the Foundation used median property tax payments against median home value to compute a "tax as a % of home value".

Allegheny County did not come out looking good in that national measure, ranking 42nd out of counties across the U.S. with 2.26% based on median home value of $112k and median property taxes of $2,547. The U.S. average was .96% by comparison. We even noted that the measurement might have been low since those median values would produce millage rates in Allegheny County that would be quite low in comparison with reality.

Here’s what the LBFC study does: it uses Foundation data to show the "tax as a % of home value" for all counties in Pennsylvania. Allegheny retains its #1 ranking; no other Pennsylvania county had a value greater than 2%, though several came close (Armstrong at 1.94%, Erie at 1.87%, and Greene at 1.77%). In counties where the median value fell in a range close to Allegheny’s (six counties had a value of $110k to $116k) and their property tax burden was as low as 1.03% in one case (Bedford) and 1.20% (Columbia). Many counties (including all of the collar counties around Philadelphia) had a higher dollar value of taxes paid than Allegheny, but since the median home value was much higher the property tax burden was lower.

A future blog will look at the relationship of taxes to median household income data.