US

Homeowners saw their property taxes take a big leap last year

Total property taxes levied on single-family homes in 2020 were $323 billion, up 5.4% from the year before, the biggest average increase in four years, according to an analysis of 87 million US homes by ATTOM Data Solutions, a property information firm.

The average property tax for a single-family home was $3,719, up 4.4% from $3,561 in 2019.

“Homeowners across the United States in 2020 got hit with the largest average property tax hike in the last four years, a sign that the cost of running local governments and public school systems rose well past the rate of inflation,” said Todd Teta, chief product officer for ATTOM Data Solutions. “The increase was twice what it was in 2019.”

Recent homebuyers have mortgages with ultra low interest rates that may contain some of the cost of homeownership, he said. “But the latest tax numbers speak loud and clear about the continuing pressure on both recent and longtime homeowners to support the rising cost of public services.”

To determine the property tax estimates, the report looked at property tax data collected from county tax assessor offices nationwide at the state, city and county levels, along with estimated market values of single-family homes.

Because property tax rates vary so widely, a common way to compare tax rates is to look at the effective tax rate. An effective tax rate looks at how much a homeowner pays in taxes compared to the value of their home. Across the US, the report found that the effective property tax rate — an estimate of the average percentage of a property’s value that is paid annually in taxes — was 1.1% in 2020, down slightly from 1.14% in 2019.

States with the highest effective property tax rates in 2020 were New Jersey at 2.2%, followed by Illinois at 2.18%, Texas at 2.15%, Vermont at 1.97% and Connecticut at 1.92%. The other five states in the top ten included New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Nebraska.

States with the lowest effective property tax rates last year were Hawaii at 0.37%, Alabama at 0.44%, West Virginia at 0.51%, Colorado at 0.54% and Utah at 0.54%.

New Jersey was also the state with the highest average property tax on a single-family home, at $9,196. That was more than ten times higher than the average tax in Alabama, which had the lowest average property tax at $841.

More than half of the cities that the report looked at showed property tax rates increasing faster than the national average. Those with the fastest increases included Salt Lake City, up 11.4%; San Francisco, up 11.1%; San Jose, up 10.8%; Seattle, up 10.3% and Atlanta, up 10.2%.

But the region with the highest effective tax rates in its cities is the Northeast, where 12 of the top 20 fastest rates were located.

There were 16 counties that had average annual property taxes of more than $10,000, including 12 in the New York City area.

The top five were Rockland County, New York, at $13,931; Marin County, California, at $13,257; Essex County, New Jersey, at $12,698; Nassau County, New York, at $12,386 and Bergen County, New Jersey, at $12,348.

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