Griping about taxes is a time-honored American tradition dating back to the very founding of the country. But as much as Americans don’t like taxes, we harbor a particular dislike for property taxes, which a 2009 poll found were considered the second-most unfair state or local tax, behind only gasoline taxes.
Our view of property taxes has likely only gotten worse since then, as that poll came before many local governments hiked those taxes in recent years in order to make up for revenue shortfalls in the wake of the Great Recession — even as real estate values fell in many places.
Plus, there’s no way to escape property taxes: They’re levied across the country and may be levied by every level of government, from states to counties, cities, townships, school districts and “special districts” that manage water and sewer agencies. The Tax Policy Center notes that local governments rely on property tax revenue far more than states do.
But before you complain too loudly about just how outrageous your property taxes are, take a look at these rankings, based on per capita tax collections (as of July 1, 2016) as reported by the Tax Foundation, and see where your state falls:
Keep in mind that in addition to taxes on real and personal property, the Tax Foundation ranking includes taxes levied against the transfer of assets, intangible property, inventory, real estate transfers, estates, inheritances and gifts.
Generally, states with the lowest property taxes (either measured per capita or by looking at taxes collected as a percentage of income) don’t have estate, inheritance, gift and other wealth taxes, according to The Tax Foundation. The states that fare poorly in the rankings tend to have not only high property tax rates but also levy several of these wealth-based taxes.
Keep in mind, too, that your property taxes typically go toward funding public school systems and libraries as well as for construction and maintenance of public roads and the salaries of local government employees, including police and firefighters. The allocation of the money differs widely, but you can generally see at least some of the benefits of your property tax money by looking around at your community.
Click here to find out where your state ranks on property taxes — and then feel free to go ahead and gripe.