NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


April 20, 2010

New York's property tax burden -- ranked annually at or near the top in the country -- has long been a leading subject of complaint among residents.  But the high property taxes have become even more pronounced in the past few years as the economy sputtered, unemployment hit record highs and the housing boom went bust, says Pressconnects. 

For example: 

  • Live in Westchester County and you pay the highest property taxes in the nation -- the median is $8,404 a year.
  • Live in upstate New York, and you also have an unenviable distinction: 16 upstate counties -- including Cortland, Seneca and Allegany -- pay the highest property taxes compared to home values in the country, according to the U.S. Census.
  • Property tax levies grew 60 percent between 1995 and 2005, more than twice the inflation rate, the Office of the State Comptroller said.
  • In all, New York's local taxes are 79 percent higher than the national average, a 2008 state report found. 

School taxes accounted for 61 percent of all property taxes in 2007: 

  • Between 1993 and 2006, state aid to schools soared -- from $12 billion to $22 billion, according to the Rockefeller Institute for Government.
  • In the 2004-05 school year, for example, state spending on schools grew 6.3 percent -- but school taxes grew by 8.3 percent.
  • The state Commission on Property Tax Relief, formed in 2007 to explore the problem, found that school staff grew by more than 12,000 between 2000 and 2007, even as enrollment declined by nearly 16,000 students. 

Critics say the problem is driving people out of the state: 

  • Nearly 1.7 million people left New York between 2000 and July 2009 -- the most of any state in the nation, Census data last month showed.
  • Between 2004 and 2008, the state lost more than $19.5 billion in taxable income because people left the state, a review of Internal Revenue Service data shows. 

Source: Joseph Spector, "New York's property tax pain: In down economy, burden soars for homeowners," Pressconnects, April 19, 2010. 


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