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Hey Taxpayers, Arlington County Is #33

According to Wikipedia, “The word county is used in 48 of the 50 states, while Louisiana uses the term parish and Alaska uses borough, Including those, there are 3,077 counties in the US.” The Wikipedia entry goes on, “The U.S. Census Bureau lists 3,141 counties or county-equivalent administrative units total.”

The Tax Foundation has just released their Fiscal Fact No. 147 (tax data here), which provides “new census data on property taxes on homeowners.” They write:

“The Census Bureau has released new housing numbers courtesy of the 2007 American Community Survey (ACS), which includes real estate taxes paid on owner-occupied housing units . . . (but) (w)hen people want to know where property taxes are the highest, though, they typically wonder about property taxes levied specifically on homeowners. This is where the ACS data is useful.”

In their conclusion, the Tax Foundation writes:

“The Northeast, mainly New Jersey and New York, remains the area with the highest property taxes on homeowners. These states also have high per capita income, and the highest property tax bills, in terms of dollar amounts, are usually found in the areas with the highest incomes. As for the percentage-of-home-value measure, counties in New Jersey and New York still dominate as they tend to impose the highest property tax rates on homeowners as well.”

Unfortunately, Northern Virginia has three of the top 34 counties in the entire country when ranked according to the median property taxes paid on homes -- Loudoun (#30), Arlington (#33), and Fairfax (#34). (emphasis added)

The Grand Poohbahs at the Courthouse would have to agree, however, but they would argue that two other measures are more representative -- either taxes as a percentage of median home value or taxes as a percentage of income. According to these two measures, Arlington is either #475 (0.8%) when ranked according to taxes as a percentage of median home value or #203 (3.6%) according to taxes as a percentage of median income for homeowners. By comparison, Loudoun County ranks #404 and #146  and Fairfax #441 and #178 on those measures.

At a median property taxes paid on homes of $4,636, Arlington is is in some pretty exotic company. Never the less, residents of New York and New Jersey -- where residents of  the top 13 counties pay median property taxes between $8.422 and $6,494 -- moving to Northern Virginia must think they’ve entered nirvana.


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