Government data published by Smart Asset details the cumulative cost of local governments across the United States. After taking into account home values, the median Texas homeowner pays the 4th highest effective property taxes nationwide. But inside Texas, families in Fort Bend, Collin, and Travis counties pay the most.
The calculation for this analysis is straightforward. It looks at the median home value inside each county, and multiplies it against the average total property tax rate levied by all taxing authorities (cities, counties, schools, etc.)
The result is a county by county ranking in each state that identifies where the total cost of all local governments is the highest for homeowners.
Below are the Top 25 Texas counties (out of 254) where taxpayers pay the highest total property tax payments, from highest to lowest.
It’s worth noting two important facts about the data.
Individual homeowners inside each county will pay a different tax bill, because they are taxed by different localities, each with a separate tax rate. And every homeowner has a different property value on which those rates are levied.
Also, these figures are based only on median home values. Since commercial properties are excluded, the figures are not reflective of the total tax revenue local governments collect from their entire tax base. In some cities, commercial property can account for fifty percent (or more) of the tax base.
In short, the above rankings illustrate where the cumulative cost of all local governments is the highest for homeowners, after adjusting for home values. In doing so, they illustrate how tax rates are not wholly reflective of the tax burdens imposed on homeowners, because property values can vary considerably.
So what’s driving higher tax bills? It’s not appraisal increases. Generally speaking, higher burdens ultimately result from local officials refusing to lower their tax rates enough to offset skyrocketing appraisal values.
The best example of this dynamic is illustrated in Kendall County, where homeowners pay the 4th highest tax payments due to extremely high property values, despite facing a cumulative property tax rate lower than then next nineteen most burdened counties.