A Guide to Property Taxes in 2021: States With the Highest (and Lowest) Rates

With tax season upon us, it seems like a good time to check what homeowners pay in property taxes—and a new survey confirms that where you live makes a huge difference in how much you’ll have to cough up.

According to researchers at WalletHub, which analyzed tax data on all 50 states and the District of Columbia, the average American household pays $2,471 on real estate property taxes. But that can vary widely. And just in case you thought the country wasn’t polarized enough already, political leanings can often be an indicator of state tax rates: “Blue states” (defined by WalletHub as how they voted in the 2020 presidential election) generally pay higher property taxes than “red states.”

As for the state with the highest property tax rate, that’s New Jersey, where residents pay a rate of 2.49%, which means that people living in a median-priced home in the area ($335,600) will pay Uncle Sam $8,362 in property tax per year.

In fact, the five states with the highest tax rates are all east of the Mississippi.

Meanwhile, people in Hawaii are blessed with the lowest real estate tax rate of 0.28%. So even though a median-priced home in the area is expensive ($615,300), homeowners end up paying only $1,715 in taxes per year. In Alabama, the state with the second-lowest tax rate (0.41%) as well as bargain-basement median home prices ($142,700), you’ll pay even lower property taxes of just $587 per year.

Curious how your state stacks up? Below are the top 10 states with the highest—and lowest—property taxes:

States with the highest property taxes

  1. New Jersey: $8,362 (2.49%)
  2. Illinois: $4,419 (2.27%)
  3. New Hampshire: $5,701 ( 2.18%)
  4. Connecticut: $5,898 (2.14%)
  5. Vermont: $4,329 (1.90%)
  6. Wisconsin: $3,344 (1.85%)
  7. Texas: $3,099 (1.80%)
  8. Nebraska: $2,689 (1.73%)
  9. New York: $5,407 (1.72%)
  10. Rhode Island: $4,272 (1.63%)

States with the lowest property taxes

  1. Hawaii: $1,715 (0.28%)
  2. Alabama: $587 (0.41%)
  3. Colorado: $1,756 (0.51%)
  4. Louisiana: $890 (0.55%)
  5. District of Columbia: $3,378 (0.56%)
  6. South Carolina: $924 (0.57%)
  7. Delaware: $1,431 (0.57%)
  8. West Virginia: $698 (0.58%)
  9. Nevada: $1,614 (0.60%)
  10. Wyoming: $1,337 (0.61%)

Why are my property taxes so high—or low?

While property taxes may be high in some states, lower home prices may offset this tax burden. For example, Illinois—which has the second-highest tax rate, at 2.27%—has a low median home price of only $194,500, resulting in annual property taxes hovering around $4,419. That’s less than you’d pay in other states with lower tax rates (like New Hampshire and Connecticut).

So what can you do if you live in a state with high tax rates and high home prices?

“Unfortunately, living in the Northeast has become a very expensive proposition if you want to own properties,” says Ralph DiBugnara, president of Home Qualified and senior vice president at Cardinal Financial. “But homeowners should be aware of what they can write off when it comes to homeownership, especially in these high-tax areas.”

In other words, in high-tax-rate states with pricy properties, the good news is that you are allowed to write off (or deduct) up to $10,000 of your property taxes. Just remember that this may not cover all of your property taxes; it depends on how much your home is worth.

“If your home is worth $500,000 or below, you should be able to write off all of your property taxes,” says DiBugnara. “But if your home value is above $500,000 and in a state with tax rates around 2%, most of the time this is not enough of a write-off to cover all of your property taxes.”

This problem is typical in Northeast states. Still, any write-off is better than none, right?

To help with your overall tax bill, you can also write off mortgage interest as a tax deduction for a balance of up to $750,000. And if you buy or sell a home in a tax year, in most cases you will be able to write off transfer taxes—local or state taxes charged in any real estate transaction.

Green energy sources for homes that are powered by solar are also tax-deductible. You also have the right to appeal the amount of your property taxes if you think the assessed value of your home is too high.

Also weigh what your property taxes go toward when deciding where you want to live.

“People should definitely consider property taxes when they move, alongside information about the local services that those property taxes pay for,” says Stephanie Leiser, lecturer in public policy at the Ford School at the University of Michigan. “They should consider the ‘value for the dollar’ they would get from paying property taxes.”

For example, in some communities, services like trash pickup will be covered by property taxes, while in others, there will be a separate fee.

“It’s also important to keep the overall tax picture in mind when deciding where to move,” adds Leiser. “Low property taxes may sound great, but they may be offset by higher local sales taxes or other taxes and fees.”

Source: realtor.com

Potential impacts of Biden’s $15,000 tax credit

The housing industry is keeping a close eye on the Biden administration’s proposal of a first-time homebuyer tax credit of $15,000. If passed, the funds — which would help cover a down payment — could be accessed immediately by the buyer at the closing table.

$1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan — is more of a possibility now that both Senate races in Georgia went to Democrats.

Ralph DiBugnara, president of Home Qualified and senior vice president at Cardinal Financial, sees an obvious positive impact of the tax credit but is still wary of parts of the bill, which includes an increased rate on long term capital gains.

“The real estate market is so hot that hurting investors now may not have a big effect, but long term it could cause major issues,” DiBugnara said. “Real estate Investors tend to buy more real estate in even in bad markets as a long-term strategy. If it becomes more expensive for them to do so, because of taxes, I believe some will shift strategies long term so when market cools there will be a lot less of them to support home buying.”

Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the National Association of Realtors, thinks Biden’s tax credit will need to get support from around 60 senators — a majority needed to pass it into law — if Democrats choose not to use budget reconciliation. And, the possibility certainly exists that Republicans will ask for a smaller credit number.


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“Having a few Republican Senators on board will help change the public perception of working across the aisle,” Yun said. “That means getting what the Biden administration wants along with items favorable for Republicans, such as expanding high speed internet access to rural areas and a tax break for small businesses.”

For builders, Yun said preserving the 1031 Exchange to incentivize land sales is important for the future of the housing market. An extra $15,000, he said, certainly won’t help the already low inventory of homes available.

“Only with added supply will the homebuyer tax credit be effective in boosting homeownership and enlarging the middle class,” Yun said. “Without supply, home prices jump much higher with no meaningful gain to new homeownership.”

Ruben Gonzalez, Keller Williams chief economist, said it’s hard to comment on anything definitive at the moment but thinks Biden’s tax credit will garner bipartisan support.

“The challenge with the credit right now is that demand is already really strong with mortgage rates so low, and most evidence is showing that high earners have increased savings during the pandemic,” Gonzalez said. “The first-time home buyer tax credit seems like a good candidate for bipartisan support, but right now it’s still unclear if we are genuinely going to see bipartisan efforts in Congress.”

But past bipartisan support for similar tax bills seems to point things in a positive direction, DiBugnara said, of passing.

“I do believe, with the Democratic-led Senate, most of what is President Biden’s tax plan will come to fruition,” he said. “The [$15,000] credit seems to be one of the easier proposals of the tax plan to get passed, because it will stimulate the already hot real estate market and align with a low interest rate market. The majority of both parties have been in agreement with that.”

Source: housingwire.com