Thursday, September 25, 2008

tax metrics

The Tax Foundation has put out its county rankings of property taxes. They rank 788 of the 3K or so counties in the US using census data on property taxes. I'm not quite sure this census data is the best way to measure property tax incidence since in a lot of cases you can measure actual tax revenues directly and not rely on survey responses from people who may not recall their current tax bill accurately. Nonetheless, Allegheny county is ranked at 194th in terms with an average property tax bill of $2,539. That would seem pretty good as rankings go, especially for an urban core county which typically fare badly in metrics like that, but as a proportion of the average property value here ($113,800 in this data) it works out to an average 2.2% which is the highest in Pennsylvania and 20th in the nation. Lessons? Maybe you can't infer that all the costs of government necessarily become cheaper just because housing is cheap. That's a lesson many local municipalities and school districts here know very well. It also means that when you adjust for housing prices and don't include property taxes which is what many folks do, you really are not getting a full picture. The numbers for some other local counties:

Allegheny County $2,539
Butler County $1,951
Beaver County $1,905
Westmoreland County $1,838
Armstrong County $1,756
Washington County $1,565
Indiana County $1,409
Fayette County $1,105


Anonymous MH said...

And don't forget the extra income tax.

Thursday, September 25, 2008 9:59:00 PM  
Blogger illyrias said...

Well, there isn't an extra income tax in Allegheny County... There is in Pittsburgh, but these numbers are for the entire county. Happily, my personal property tax is much less than the county average, and I reap the benefits of living in the city, so I pay city taxes. (Laugh all you want, but I actually like the city I choose to live in.)

However, Briem makes a very good point. Property tax isn't necessarily correlated to housing costs. Low housing costs are a sweet benefit.

What it really comes down to however is that all of these valuations and adjustments are garbage unless our actual property value is reflected in the way we are taxed. The moronic plan to never adjust property taxes based on property values for the never-ending future will prevent any appropriate taxation in this county. When prices in the South Side have skyrocketed in the past 10 years while other regions have languished, yet the tax rate remains the same as in 1999, certain people have to bear the brunt of unfair taxes, and there will be festering anger.

Friday, September 26, 2008 10:12:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do these rankings just include county property taxes, or school and local municipal property taxes? I know a lot of other areas of the country with county-based school districts have one tax, unlike here in PA. That makes a difference because for most of us the county taxes are the lower of the three.

Friday, September 26, 2008 9:19:00 PM  

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