The Urban Institute just released a new report on property taxes in counties across the country, and the maps might surprise you. The first one shows property taxes in dollar amount per household, and it's pretty much in line with the "coastal cities and states have higher taxes" meme. California, Seattle, Illinois, and Northeastern households all pay an average of more than $3,000 in property tax every year (with a surprise appearance from various Texas metro regions, and what looks like Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming):
Pretty standard. What's really surprising is how the map changes when you look at property tax rates rather than amounts:
The colors invert to some degree, concentrating much more in the Midwest and away from the coasts. These states tend to rely less on things like income and sales taxes, so that makes sense. The Northeast and Illinois/Wisconsin look even worse though.
Also notice that the colors form pretty accurate representations of the borders of many states (Texas in particular), unlike the dollar amount map where dark blue areas tended to concentrate according to metro area, not state.
Anyway, no messaging to accompany this post, just some observations. I encourage readers to dig into the full report—it's only 12 pages including the appendix, and full of valuable data. And as the report says, "[i]n 2011, property taxes made up 34.6 percent of total local revenues and 63.9 percent of local own-source revenue," so we should probably know more about them than most of us currently do.