Overview of Pennsylvania Taxes
The effective property tax rates across Pennsylvania range from 1% to 2%.
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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 Tax
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 rates are determined by a wide number of tax authorities such as municipalities and school districts.
In general, effective property tax rates (annual taxes paid as a percentage of a home’s market value) range from 1% to 2%. However, in Philadelphia County, the average effective rate is just 0.92%. In Allegheny County (which contains Pittsburgh), the average effective rate is 2.16%. If you’re looking to purchase a home in Pennsylvania, whether it’s in Philadelphia county, Allegheny 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. Below, we will look at rates across the state of Pennsylvania and review the most important Pennsylvania property tax rules.
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. Many counties have a base year, which provides the basis for assessed values. In Blair County, for example, assessed value is equal to 100% of the 1958 market value of a home.
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 homeowner 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
Tax rates in Pennsylvania are determined by local tax authorities 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.
|County||Median Home Value||Median Annual Property Tax Payment||Average Effective Property Tax Rate|
Pennsylvania’s most populous county, Philadelphia County (which is coterminous with the city by the same name) also has the lowest property tax rates, on average. The county’s average effective property tax rate is 0.93%, well below the state average of 1.47%.
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.
The average effective property tax rate in Allegheny County is 2.16%, more than double the rate in Philadelphia County. That means that the median annual property tax paid by homeowners in Allegheny County is over $1,300 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 1.10, which means assessed values are about 90% of market values.
Located north of Philadelphia, Montgomery County has property tax rates near the state average, but much higher than those in Philly. The average effective rate in Montgomery County is 1.44%. At that rate, a homeowner with a home worth $200,000 would pay $2,880 annually in property taxes.
This eastern Pennsylvania county has some of the highest property taxes in the state. The median annual property tax paid by homeowners in Bucks County is $4,475, which ranks as the second highest amount in the state. That is more than double the national median, which is $2,107.
Situated along the Delaware River, between the state of Delaware and Philadelphia, Delaware County has the fifth highest property tax rates in Pennsylvania. The County’s average effective property tax rate is 1.86%. The county’s common level ratio, as calculated by the state Tax Equalization Board, is 1.47.That means property in Delaware County is assessed at about 68% of market value.
With a population of about 520,000, Lancaster County is the sixth largest county in Pennsylvania. Homeowners in the county pay tax rates slightly higher than the state average. The county’s average effective tax rate is 1.55%.
In the city of Lancaster, the total mill rate for 2015 is 43.45 mills. (A mill is $1 in taxes per $1,000 in assessed value.) Assessed value in Lancaster County is equal to about 80% of market value.
Southeast Pennsylvania’s Chester County has the highest average home value of any county in the state.According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median home value in Chester County is $325,200. That ranks first in the state and among the top 100 counties national. 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 in Chester County is $4,594.
York County stretches from the Maryland border to the southern suburbs of Harrisburg. The county’s average effective property tax of 1.71% ranks ninth 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 1.93%. At that rate, taxes on a home worth $200,000 would be $3,860 annually.
Westmoreland County lies east of Pittsburgh, and is part of the Pittsburgh metropolitan area. Property tax rates in Westmoreland County compare favorably to those in Steel City. The county’s average effective property tax rate is 1.47%, well below the rate in neighboring Allegheny County (2.16%).
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 calculated the average math and reading/language arts proficiencies for all the school districts in the country. Within each state, these schools were then ranked between 1 and 10 (with 10 being the best) based on those average scores.
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 2016 American Community Survey, Department of Education, Federal Bureau of Investigation, State Police or Justice Department websites