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Property taxes: Worse than you realize

There are 3,141 counties in the United States.

Of the 20 with the biggest property tax bite, 19 are located in Upstate New York.

Nineteen of twenty. In the freakin' nation.

Niagara County ranks No. 2; Erie County is No. 12.

Rounding out the ranks are most of the remaining counties in Western New York and counties in and around Rochester, Syracuse, Albany and Binghamton.

I knew property taxes were bad here. But this bad?

The depressing data comes from a report issued by the Tax Foundation, an outfit out of Washington, D.C., which studied Census data from 2005-2007 for counties with a population over 20,000. They sliced and diced the data different ways. Where Upstate comes out worst is when median property taxes are calculated as a percentage of median property values.

In places with dirt-cheap property taxes, starting with Louisiana, property taxes are well
below 1 percent of property values. As low as one-tenth of one percent. (I'm not sure many of
us would be satisfied with the quality of government services in those places.)

Meanwhile, back in Upstate New York, property taxes equal 2.4 to 3 percent of median property values. I figure it's a result of relatively modest property values and high tax rates.

Here's the "Top 20" list. Only a county in Texas, west of Houston, keeps us from batting 1.000.

Orleans County, NY: 3.05%
Niagara County, NY: 2.90%
Allegany County, NY: 2.87%
Montgomery County, NY: 2.86%
Monroe County, NY: 2.84%
Wayne County, NY: 2.74%
Cortland County, NY: 2.69%
Genesee County, NY: 2.69%
Chautauqua County, NY: 2.67%
Livingston County, NY: 2.61%
Fort Bend County, TX: 2.57%
Erie County, NY: 2.56%
Onondaga County, NY: 2.56%
Seneca County, NY: 2.52%
Oswego County, NY: 2.50%
Wyoming County, NY: 2.49%
Fulton County, NY: 2.47%
Cayuga County, NY: 2.46%
Chemung County, NY: 2.44%
Schenectady County, NY: 2.43%

Not outraged enough?

Here's a link to a spreadsheet with more complete data. Go to the tab entitled "Sorted by % of value."

Read it and weep.

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