Which county in the Commonwealth has the highest tax burden?
If you guessed Monroe County, go to the head of the class.
The Independent Fiscal Office utilized county-level income data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and property tax data from the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) and Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) to estimate the 2021 property tax burden by county.
Notable results include:
- Pennsylvania residents and businesses paid $22.0 billion in property taxes statewide, which represented 2.57% of total income.
- Monroe County (4.73%) had the highest property tax burden in the state, 0.92 percentage points higher than the second highest, Pike County (3.81%)
- The much higher property tax burden in Monroe County is likely due to multiple factors including a relatively higher reliance on school district property taxes (as opposed to earned income taxes) and a relatively high proportion of vacation/secondary homes.
- Snyder County residents and businesses remitted 1.51% of their income in property taxes, the lowest rate in the state.
Here is a map showing the property taxes for each of the state’s 67 counties as well as the tax burden and rank in the state.
Property taxes include actual current, interim and delinquent school district revenues for FY 2021-22 and CY 2021 county and municipal revenues. Tax burden is equal to total property taxes paid as a percentage of total income. Forest County’s tax burden and rank are excluded due to various data anomalies.
- All counties in the top 10 are in the eastern region of the state. Many counties with the highest burdens share borders, such as Monroe, Pike, Wayne and Northampton.
- All counties in the bottom 10 are in the western and central regions of the state, and several border each other. The notable exception is Philadelphia, which had the third-lowest property tax burden in the state. This result occurs because the county reported the highest level of personal income while also having a relatively low reliance on school property taxes compared to other counties.
- In general, rural counties had higher property tax burdens because those counties have relatively larger elderly populations and lower per capita income levels. For those counties, Social Security, pensions and savings income (e.g., IRAs) comprise a larger share of total county income.