Overview of Pennsylvania Taxes
Overall, Pennsylvania has property tax rates that are higher than national averages. In fact, the state carries a 1.58% average effective property tax rate in comparison to the 1.08% national average. Effective property tax rates on a county basis range from 0.90% to 2.47%.
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To calculate the exact amount of property tax you will owe requires your property's assessed value and the property tax rates based on your property's address. Please note that we can only estimate your property tax based on median property taxes in your area. There are typically multiple rates in a given area, because your state, county, local schools and emergency responders each receive funding partly through these taxes. In our calculator, we take your home value and multiply that by your county's effective property tax rate. This is equal to the median property tax paid as a percentage of the median home value in your county.
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Jennifer Mansfield, CPA, JD/LLM-Tax, is a Certified Public Accountant with more than 30 years of experience providing tax advice. SmartAsset’s tax expert has a degree in Accounting and Business/Management from the University of Wyoming, as well as both a Masters in Tax Laws and a Juris Doctorate from Georgetown University Law Center. Jennifer has mostly worked in public accounting firms, including Ernst & Young and Deloitte. She is passionate about helping provide people and businesses with valuable accounting and tax advice to allow them to prosper financially. Jennifer lives in Arizona and was recently named to the Greater Tucson Leadership Program.
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Pennsylvania Property Taxes
Property taxes in Pennsylvania vary greatly from one area to the next. Each county has its own system of property tax assessment and a wide number of tax authorities such as municipalities and school districts determine rates. For example, although Pennsylvania has a 1.58% average effective property tax rate, the rates on a county level vary from as little as 0.90% to as high as 2.47%.
If you’re looking to purchase a home in Pennsylvania, whether it’s in Bedford county, Monroe County or somewhere in between, you’ll want to consult our mortgage rates guide for all the essential information about getting a mortgage in the Keystone State.
A financial advisor in Pennsylvania can help you understand how homeownership fits into your overall financial goals. Financial advisors can also help with investing and financial plans, including taxes, homeownership, retirement and more, to make sure you are preparing for the future.
Pennsylvania Property Tax Rules
Property taxes are administered at the county level in Pennsylvania. In every county, the sum of local tax rates (school taxes, municipal taxes and county taxes) is applied to the assessed value of each property. However, each county has its own system for determining assessed value.
In some counties, assessed value is (or should be) equal to the current market value of property. In other counties, assessed value is equal to some percentage of current market value.
The state publishes Common Level Ratios (CLR) that represent the ratio of assessed values in a county to market value. So, for example, if a county has a CLR of 4, a home worth $100,000 should have an assessed value of $25,000 (regardless of the system the county uses to assess property).
Homeowners whose home is above the assessed value based on this CLR can appeal their assessment. However, the burden of proof is on the homeowners in Pennsylvania: they need to produce pictures, and sales data of comparable properties, to demonstrate their home’s current market value.
Pennsylvania Property Tax Rates
Local tax authorities determine tax rates in Pennsylvania based on their revenue needs. Rates are expressed as “mills.” One mill is equal to $1 of property tax for every $1,000 in assessed value.
Since every county uses its own system to determined assessed values, mill rates in one are not comparable to mill rates in another. For this reason, it useful to look at effective tax rates. The effective tax rate is equal to the annual property tax as a percentage of home value. The table below shows the average effective rate for every county in Pennsylvania, along with median home values and median annual tax bills.
|County||Median Home Value||Median Annual Property Tax Payment||Average Effective Property Tax Rate|
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Pennsylvania’s most populous county is Philadelphia County, which is coterminous with the city of Philadelphia. It also has the third lowest average property tax rates in the state. More specifically, the county’s average effective property tax rate is 0.98% in comparison to the state average of 1.58%.
Philadelphia assesses property at 100% of current market value. Philadelphia assesses property every year to determine market value based on numerous factors, including the size, location and condition of a property. The assessor also looks at recent sales of comparable properties.
If you have questions about how property taxes can affect your overall financial plans, a financial advisor in Philadelphia can help you out.
The average effective property tax rate in Allegheny County is 2.06%, more than double the rate in Philadelphia County. That means that the median annual property tax paid by homeowners in Allegheny County is more than $1,400 higher than the median in Philadelphia County.
The most recent reassessment in Allegheny County was 2012. Property values across much of the county have climbed since then. The current Common Level Ratio in Allegheny County is 4.73.
Located north of Philadelphia, Montgomery County has property tax rates near the state average, but much higher than those in the City of Brotherly Love. The average effective rate in Montgomery County is 1.56%. At that rate, a homeowner with a home worth $200,000 would pay $3,120 annually in property taxes.
This eastern Pennsylvania county has some of the highest annual property tax payments in the state. The median annual property tax paid by homeowners in Bucks County is $4,823, which ranks as the third highest amount in the state. That is more than double the national median, which is $2,090.
Situated along the Delaware River between the state of Delaware and the city of Philadelphia, Delaware County has the second highest property tax rate in Pennsylvania. The county’s average effective property tax rate is 2.09%.
That rate applied to a home worth $235,200 (the county median) would result in an annual property tax bill of $4,915. That's far above the median property tax payment for the state of Pennsylvania, which sits at $2,691.
With a population of about 530,000, Lancaster County is the sixth largest county in Pennsylvania. Homeowners here pay tax rates slightly higher than the state average. The county’s average effective tax rate is 1.69%.
In the city of Lancaster, the total mill rate is about 34.94 (A mill is $1 in taxes per $1,000 in assessed value.) Assessed value in Lancaster County is equal to full market value.
Southeast Pennsylvania’s Chester County has the highest median home value of any county in the state. According to the U.S. Census, the median home value in Chester County is $338,200. So, while tax rates in Chester County are near the state average, the amount paid by homeowners is quite high. The median annual property tax payment in Chester County is $5,032.
York County stretches from the Maryland border to the southern suburbs of Harrisburg. The county’s average effective property tax of 1.92% ranks seventh in the state. In the city of York, the total mill rate is around 58 mills. Assessed property in York County is equal to about 87% of market value.
Located between Harrisburg and Allentown, Berks County has some of the highest property tax rates of any county in Pennsylvania. The county’s average effective property tax rate is 2.06%. At that rate, taxes on a home worth $200,000 would be $4,120 annually.
Westmoreland County lies east of Pittsburgh and is part of the Pittsburgh metropolitan area. Property tax rates in Westmoreland County actually compare favorably to those in the Steel City. The county’s average effective property tax rate is 1.47%, well below the rate in neighboring Allegheny County, which is 2.06%.
Property Tax: Which Counties are Getting the Best Bang for Their Buck
SmartAsset’s interactive map highlights the places across the country where property tax dollars are being spent most effectively. Zoom between states and the national map to see the counties getting the biggest bang for their property tax buck.
Our study aims to find the places in the United States where people are getting the most for their property tax dollars. To do this we looked at school rankings, crime rates and property taxes for every county.
As a way to measure the quality of schools, we analyzed the math and reading/language arts proficiencies for every school district in the country. We created an average score for each district by looking at the scores for every school in that district, weighting it to account for the number of students in each school. Within each state, we assigned every county a score between 1 and 10 (with 10 being the best) based on the average scores of the districts in each county.
For each county, we calculated the violent and property crimes per 100,000 residents.
Using the school and crime numbers, we calculated a community score. This is the ratio of the school rank to the combined crime rate per 100,000 residents.
We used the number of households, median home value and average property tax rate to calculate a per capita property tax collected for each county.
Finally, we calculated a tax value by creating a ratio of the community score to the per capita property tax paid. This shows us the counties in the country where people are getting the most bang for their buck, or where their property tax dollars are going the furthest.
Sources: US Census Bureau 2017 American Community Survey, Department of Education, Federal Bureau of Investigation, State Police or Justice Department websites