The Tax Man Cometh ... With a Vengeance

The Tax Man Cometh ... With a Vengeance

Why you should care

Everyone feels some pain on tax day. Some more than others. 

New Jersey has more than its share of unflattering stereotypes, embellished by the likes of Snookie, Tony Soprano and corrupt former Sen. Bob Toricelli.

Well, Jerseyans, here’s your chance to push back against your reputation of fake tans and thick accents. Because as census data continues to confirm, no matter which exit on the turnpike you call home, New Jersey is not exactly cheap.

New Jersey residents feel particular pain on tax day (today). According to the latest census information and other data culled by the nonpartisan think tank the Brookings Institution and laid out in one handy-dandy map, the state is home to 7 out of 10 of the counties with the highest average property taxes in the country (and 15 counties in the top 25).

Rounding out that 25? All neighbors in the same general New York metropolitan area (Westchester County just north of New York City ranks number one for property taxes), with the exception of one county near Chicago.

In fact, out of New Jersey’s 21 counties, just two – along the South Jersey Shore – don’t rank among the top 50 in terms of average property tax payment.

No wonder a recent Gallup poll found that residents of the New York tri-state area gripe the most about their taxes of anyone in the country.

Of course, property taxes are just one piece of the overall tax picture, and many vicinities with high property levies balance things out with low income or sales taxes. But Brookings has mapped income tax data, as well, and while Jersey counties fare a little better here, most are still higher, on average, than much of the country.

High taxes are the sort of universally unpopular policy that Jersey politicians promise to address each election cycle – it was a big part of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s pitch to voters in his successful campaign to unseat Democrat Jon Corzine in 2009. But Christie has had mixed success in reining in taxes since, and property rates, in particular, have continued to rise.

It’s the sort of thing that could be a presidential primary liability in a party with a strong anti-tax streak. Though compared to this little matter with the George Washington Bridge, that may be the least of Christie’s worries.

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