Who Pays the Highest Property Taxes?

Which of Virginia’s cities and counties levy the highest property taxes? And how do they compare to their high-taxing brethren in other states? Well, it depends partly on what you’re measuring.

If you’re ranking the localities by the median property taxes paid per house, then it’s the city of Falls Church, hands down. The diminutive jurisdiction collected $6,012 per owner-occupied house on average between 2005 and 2009, according to newly published Tax Foundation data. Nobody comes close, not even Loudoun and Fairfax Counties, a laggardly No. 2 and No. 3.

Switching the measure to property taxes paid as a percentage of home value gives the Big Tax award goes to the city of Manassas Park, where property taxes amount to 1.13% of the value of the house. (If it’s any consolation to home owners in Falls Church, they still rank No.2.)

If you shift to property taxes paid as a percentage of income, then the Onerous Taxation trophy goes again to Falls Church, where the median tax consumes 4.94% of median household income.

Well done, city councilmen of Falls Church, you have been exacting the most oppressive property taxes of any locality in Virginia — indeed, enough to rank the city No. 15 nationally in terms of median property tax paid, right up there with those New Jersey and New York counties — without inspiring riots in the streets. That’s no mean accomplishment. I hope your city services are worth the price your citizens pay.

Check out how your city or county ranks, courtesy of the Tax Foundation, which has compiled the five-year average of property taxes on owner-occupied housing between 2005-2009 for 2,922 jurisdictions nationally. To view Virginia jurisdictions and play with the numbers, download the Bacon’s Rebellion spreadsheet. If you have trouble downloading the spreadsheet, read the pdf file.)

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