We’re No. 1! …in Taxes
Unfortunately, not all blue ribbons are welcome. This time, Westchester County received the dubious distinction of being the first county in the entire nation to hit the $10,000 mark when it comes to median property taxes. Woo-hoo! Yes, we’re more expensive than the rest of the entire country, not just our neighbors in Nassau (median property tax: $9,510), Rockland ($9,376), and Bergen ($9,234).
Extrapolate that out, and Westchester County municipalities alone occupy eight spots on the top 200 of Forbes’s list of America’s most expensive zip codes (belonging to Rye, Purchase, Armonk, Harrison, Pound Ridge, Bedford, Scarsdale, and Irvington). And, in 2009—the last time it compiled this sort of list—Forbes also put White Plains at No. 3 on the list of the most expensive cities in America, outranking San Francisco, Honolulu, and Miami.
“[Our tax situation] depresses housing prices,” says Howland Robinson, a Bedford resident and executive committee member of BEST4NY, a group seeking tax solutions such as mandate relief. “Houses that were once affordable are becoming unaffordable.”
“A lot of people, as soon as their last child finishes school, move out of Chappaqua and often out of the County,” adds Judy McGrath, a Chappaqua resident and another BEST4NY executive committee member. “That’s detrimental to the community.”
Even the governor recognizes that high taxes are a problem for Westchester. Andrew M. Cuomo chose Pleasantville as the backdrop to sign New York’s first property tax cap, which limits property tax increases to either 2 percent or the rate of inflation (whichever is less), into law. “We are beginning a new era in which New York will no longer be the tax capital of the nation,” he said at the signing.
Still, living here must be worth the price—otherwise we’d all be moving to Detroit, where the median property tax is just $547.
Then again, one could argue that you get what you pay for. “There are intrinsic values here,” says Leah Caro, president of Bronxville-Ley Real Estate, LLC, and former president of the Westchester Putnam Association of Realtors. “Buyers want to be close to New York City, where many of them work. They value the schools, the recreation, and the scenery. They want services like garbage collection that they might have to pay for à la carte in other counties with lower taxes. In order to have these things, they have to pay for them. In this case, it’s with property taxes.”
Highest Property Taxes in the Nation Found in Westchester County
As the first county in the country to hit the $10,000 median property tax mark, Westchester also offers the bang for the buck.
We’re No. 1! …in Taxes