The website 24/7 Wall Street took a report done by Washington, DC’s Office of Revenue Analysis that examined the property, sales, and automobile taxes paid by a hypothetical family of three earning one of two levels of income ($25,000 or $150,000) to see which city had the highest tax burden. To be clear, the data does not look at all cities, only the largest city in each state. So for Pennsylvania only the City of Philadelphia is examined (it ranked second highest for both hypothetical earning levels, taking 13.3% of income for the higher earning family, 18% for the lower earning family).
The highest taxes city was Bridgeport, CT. Its high property taxes add to that distinction, and New York, Los Angeles, Detroit, and Baltimore fill out the top ten. One surprise would be the city that came in fourth, taking $18k from a family earing $150k and $3.5k for the $25k earning family, was Louisville. Readers of our work will recall that Louisville was the last major city to merge city and county functions (in January of 2003), and was the shining star of merger advocates in the southwestern Pennsylvania region (they ignored the example of Philly, which has been a merged government for a very long time) and many officials from Louisville took junkets here to trumpet their successes. A September 2003 article noted "Of particular interest to Pittsburgh, the Louisville merger allows the metro city to be more efficient…Instead of two information-technology departments, there is one. Instead of two human resources offices, there’s one. By eliminating redundant offices, the city will eventually save money not only on personnel, but also on rent, once leases on county office buildings expire." Though not sold as a money saver and rather as an image booster, one would expect that there would be some tax savings through consolidation.
Looking at the statistical section of two of Louisville’s financial audits-the 2003 one and the 2012 one-gives a perspective on the ten years leading up to the merger and the ten years since shows the rates levied on real and personal property by the City of Louisville (now known as the "urban services district") and Jefferson County (now known as the "metro government") shows that from 1993 to 2002 combined real and personal property tax rates fell 7% from 1.325 to 1.236. From 2003 through 2012, the combined rates on those taxes still fell, but by 0.8%, a rate much lower than pre-merger. But who’s in the position to complain about a tax cut of any shape or form these days? Especially when one notes that the combined real, inventory, and personal rates of the long consolidated school district (not part of the 2003 merger) went up 18% since the merger?