From the Record:
Bergen County homeowners had the fifth-highest average property tax bill in the nation, at $11,159, last year, according to a new survey by RealtyTrac, a California real estate information company. Passaic County’s single-family tax bill averaged $8,904, according to RealtyTrac.
The survey also confirms what Garden State homeowners have found out the hard way: New Jersey’s property taxes are among the highest in the nation, averaging more than 2 percent of a single-family home’s value each year. Passaic actually had a higher tax rate (2.98 percent) than Bergen (2.07 percent), apparently reflecting Passaic County’s lower property values.
Nationally, property tax rates average 1.3 percent of the property value, according to RealtyTrac.
“New Jersey has been in this unenviable position for a long time,” said Joseph Seneca, a Rutgers economist. “Property taxes are driven primarily by the costs of local government and public education, and the steady rise over the years in these costs.” In addition, local governments in New Jersey rely almost exclusively on property taxes, while in other states, local governments are funded in part by sales and income taxes, according to Henry Coleman, a Rutgers professor who studies public finance.
“New Jersey is a rich state, and rich states enjoy lots of high-quality public services, starting with education,” Coleman said.
The rate of growth in New Jersey property taxes has slowed since 2010, when a state law limited increases to 2 percent a year. In 2014, the average property tax bill in New Jersey actually grew by 2.16 percent, in part because of increased municipal spending to deal with last winter’s storms. Local governments are allowed to exceed the cap in certain cases, including response to disasters.
By contrast, the rate of growth from 2004 to 2005 was over 7 percent.