Comparing Property Tax Disparities in America’s Largest Cities
Homeowners in Jacksonville, Florida, saw the largest property tax disparities in the nation last year due to assessment limits, according to a new study from the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy and the Minnesota Center for Fiscal Excellence. According to The 50-State Property Tax Comparison Study, the owner of a newly purchased, median-valued home in Jacksonville would face an effective tax rate 64 percent higher than the owner of an equally valued home in the city that was purchased in 2010. Jacksonville is not alone: it is one of 30 cities in the report affected by parcel-specific assessment limits.
Produced annually, the comprehensive 50-state report provides the most meaningful data available to compare property taxes among cities by calculating the effective tax rate: the tax bill as a percentage of a property’s market value. Data are available for 74 large US cities and a rural municipality in each state, with information on four different property types (homestead, commercial, industrial, and apartment properties), and statistics on both net tax bills and effective tax rates.
The study found that the average effective tax rate on a median-valued homestead was 1.32 percent in 2022 for the largest city in each state, with Bridgeport, Connecticut, Aurora, Illinois, Newark, and Detroit all having effective tax rates at least two times higher than the average. Conversely, seven cities have tax rates that are half of the study average or less: Honolulu, Boston, Denver, Salt Lake City, Boise, Charleston, South Carolina, and Cheyenne, Wyoming.
The report also finds significant variations across cities in commercial property taxes, which include taxes on office buildings and similar properties. In 2022, the effective tax rate on a commercial property worth $1 million averaged 1.836 percent across the largest cities in each state. The highest rates were in Detroit and Chicago, where effective tax rates remain more than twice that average. Rates were less than half of the average in Cheyenne, Boise, Charlotte, Seattle, and Honolulu.
The data highlighted in the report have important implications for cities because the property tax is a key part of the package of taxes and public services that affects cities’ competitiveness and quality of life. This analysis of how and why property taxes vary significantly across the United States allows for meaningful comparisons and more informed decision making by policymakers.
The report is available for download on the Lincoln Institute website: https://www.lincolninst.edu/publications/other/50-state-property-tax-comparison-study-2022
Lead image: Miami, Florida. Credit: xbrchx via iStock/Getty Images Plus.