No one much pretends that Virginia is a “low tax” state anymore. Indeed, the Old Dominion has ensconced itself solidly in the ranks of the middle-tax states. If there is anything good to be said about the state’s tax structure, it’s that revenue sources are diversified across a broad array of taxes — income, sales, property and many smaller sources — so that state revenues aren’t excessively vulnerable to, say, a real estate crash, a consumer recession, or a decline in capital gains-generated income tax revenue.
One downside is that Virginia taxes personal property — primarily real estate and automobiles — more heavily than the typical state. I have combined data from the latest WalletHub offering to show that, using WalletHub’s methodology, Virginia has the 14th highest property tax burden among the 50 states (and Washington, D.C.) The real estate tax rate is modest (16th lowest) but it combines with relatively high median housing prices (11th highest) to create the 23rd highest average tax on the median-value house.
The car tax (2nd highest in the country) is a killer. Throw that into the mix, and Virginia has the 14th highest overall property tax burden in the country. If you adjust the taxes as a percentage of average household income, the numbers look a little better. Still, there’s no escaping the conclusion that Virginia’s “low tax” days are long gone — even at the local level.
The main limit to this analysis is that it obscures the tremendous divide between NoVa and RoVa. NoVa is in a league of its own when it comes to housing values and property tax rates. If you split the state into two, I’d guess, NoVa probably would look more like New York and RoVa more like North Carolina.
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