| NEW YORK
NEW YORK New Jersey and New York state residents paid the highest property taxes in the country in 2006, as much as $6,500 more than the national median, according to a report released on Wednesday.
Hunterdon County, New Jersey, about a 55-mile (89-km) drive from New York City, replaced Westchester County, New York, on top of the list of 10 counties with the highest median real estate taxes, the Tax Foundation, a nonpartisan tax research group, said in the report.
Median real estate taxes for Hunterdon County totaled $7,999, followed by the $7,706 bill paid by homeowners in Nassau County, Long Island's western half.
Third on the list was Westchester County, which is just north of New York City. Its residents paid $7,626, according to the report by the Washington, D.C.-based group.
Nationally, the median homeowner property tax was $1,541.
In New Jersey, the median value of a home was $366,600. New York's median home value was $303,400.
By this measure, both states were far eclipsed by California, whose median home value was $535,700, the nation's highest. However, in California the median property tax was just $2,510.
All of the other seven counties with highest median real estate taxes were also either in New York or New Jersey.
The rankings were based on the latest data for 2006 from the U.S. Census Bureau in its American Community Survey, the Tax Foundation said.
"The story for the states is much the same as for the top counties: the Northeast area of the country has the highest property taxes, along with pockets elsewhere, such as Wisconsin, Texas, and Illinois," the research group said.
Texas has passed property tax reform since the data was tallied, it added.
When the states were looked at, instead of just counties, New Jersey led the list of the top five, followed by New Hampshire, Connecticut, New York and Massachusetts.
"These states also have high per capita income, and the highest property tax bills, in terms of dollar amounts, are usually found in the areas with the highest incomes," the study said.
Arkansas, Mississippi, West Virginia, Alabama and Louisiana had the lowest median property taxes in 2006.
New Jersey's statewide median real estate taxes were $5,773, while Louisiana's stood at only $179.
The study also looked at median real estate taxes as a percentage of median home value. In this regard, nine of the top 10 counties were in New York, with one Texas county also making the list, the research group said.