Posted on

“Which Areas Have The Lowest Property Tax” Is The Wrong Question

Michael Shetler,

BY MICHAEL SHETLER
Real Estate Agent with Keller Williams Village Square Realty 0569304
February 10, 2016 08:30 AM

Every year around this time we see headlines about property taxes.”Which counties in NJ have the highest, lowest property taxes?” is one from NJ.com. “See what town had the highest property tax rate in Bergen County,” is another.

Headlines like these are deceptive – written expressly to get attention rather than inform the public.

The problem with these headlines is readers infer these areas have the highest/lowest tax rates, when it couldn’t be further from the truth.

In the case of one of the aforementioned articles, the first paragraph identifies Alpine, NJ, as having the highest average tax bill. While that is true, the article fails to mention the average home sale in Alpine over the last 12 months was $3,939,944. Or that Alpine has the lowest effective tax rate in Bergen County.

And Carlstadt, which is identified in the article as one of the areas with the lowest tax bills, has a tax rate over three times that of Alpine.

Wouldn’t you think some mention of home values in an area would be relevant when you’re talking about who pays the highest taxes?

The table below shows that actual tax rates of each area in Bergen County. And even more importantly, it lists the Effective Tax Rate. The latter takes into account that assessed values are not equal to market values. One town may be assessed at 95% of market value and another at 80%. They may have the same tax rate, but because the assessments are lower in the second town, the effective tax rate is also lower.

If you have any questions about property taxes in Bergen County, or are deciding which area to buy a home in, please call me at 201-421-0506 cell.

Download the chart below, sorted by Effective Tax Rate.