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December 19, 2003

Study shows four upstate urban centers have nation's highest metropolitan tax burdens

Upstate New York is home to the four highest city property-tax burdens in the nation, according to a new study by the Greater Syracuse Chamber of Commerce.

The chamber studied 2001 Census Bureau data to rank metropolitan property tax burdens in the top 100 metropolitan areas in the country. The study found that taxpayers in Syracuse, Buffalo/Niagara Falls, Rochester, and the Capital District of New York State endure the nation's highest property tax burdens.

Syracuse ranked number one in the chamber's study, with an average property-tax burden of $28.82 for every $1,000 of home value. Buffalo/Niagara Falls came in second with $28.33 for every $1,000. Rochester followed at $27.59. The Capital District came in fourth with $22.97 for every $1,000.

The New York/northern New Jersey/Long Island area ranked number 8 on the list with $20.49 for every $1,000 in home value.

All of those regions have well above-average property-tax burdens, the study showed. The average burden nationally is $13.08 per $1,000 of home value, according to the study. The lowest property-tax burden is found in Baton Rouge, LA, where property-owners pay $2.03 per $1,000 of their home's value.

The Business Council has long argued that New York's property tax burden is too high.

A recent paper by the Public Policy Institute, The Council's research affiliate, found that New York's per-capita property tax burden is more than $1,300 for every man, woman, and child in New York. This burden is the nation's fourth heaviest, and it is 50 percent above the national average.

The paper, part of The Institute's new Tax Watch '04 series, argued that the property tax burden drives business away from New York.

"High property taxes raise the cost of doing business in the Empire State, thereby driving jobs elsewhere," the paper said. "They also drive up housing costs for New Yorkers of all income levels (including those who rent)."