NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


August 7, 2006

Property taxes grew two to three times faster than personal income from 2000 to 2004 in the suburbs surrounding New York City, a sharp reversal from the 1990s, when incomes soared and property taxes climbed more modestly, a review of statistics by the New York Times has shown:

  • In Nassau County, the tax collections rose 29 percent from 2000 to 2004, while total personal income went up only 11 percent, according to data from the state and the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis.
  • In Bergen County, N.J., property taxes jumped 26 percent, three times the growth rate of income, about the same ratio as in Westchester.
  • And in the sharpest rise in the region, property taxes soared 41 percent in Somerset County, N.J., while income inched up only 5 percent.

Most states experienced a similar squeeze, data compiled recently by the Census Bureau shows: 

  • After years of moderate growth, property taxes started climbing steeply when the steam went out of the stock market in 2000, slowing income growth. 
  • Nationwide, property taxes grew 28 percent from 2000 to 2004, though income went up only 16 percent.
  • But in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, the reversal has been most dizzying, with the states faring better than the nation in the good years and worse since 2000.

In the suburbs of New York City, as in many other places across the country, property taxes are the main revenue source for municipal and county governments and, most expensively, their schools.  But while property taxes are principally a local issue, they have major political ramifications in state capitols.  And so this sharp reversal in income and property tax growth helps to explain the building murmurs of a tax revolt not only in the New York region but around the country, says the Times.

Source: Ford Fessenden, "Gain in Income Is Offset by Rise in Property Tax," New York Times, August 7, 2006.

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