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These 30 N.J. towns have the highest property tax burdens in the state

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New Jersey's property taxes are frequently cited among the highest in the nation. A list of the state's 30 towns with the heaviest tax burden based on income versus tax rate may be a surprise, especially since they are made up of small, older suburbs.

Gov. Chris Christie said in his annual State of the State speech on Tuesday, "I will have more to say about New Jersey's taxes when I present my budget to you next month. That is for a reason."

Well, maybe he should talk to Dr. Ernest Reock Jr., who has plenty to say. As a researcher at the Rutgers' Center for Government Services in New Brunswick, he sent out a release on Thursday that found high levels of municipal and school spending are rarely responsible for tax burdens in the states burdened municipalities.

The reality, says Reock, is much more complicated than that.

Roeck notes in the study that the most common approach for determining the burden of property taxes is to look at the property tax rates. But that doesn't take into account the personal financial resources of the people who own the property in a given municipality, a factor that weighs heavily in determining just how heavy that burden could be.

So Roeck used the most recent complete data set, from 2008, to calculate what he calls the "property tax burden index," and then he ranked municipalities based on that number.

He calculated the index using the equalized net property tax rate and the percentage of residential income against which property tax is levied in each municipality.

What does that mean? Equalized net property tax rates were retrieved from the state Division of Taxation. The property tax calculation used in the study ignores commercial, industrial and non-homestead farm property taxes because those decrease the property tax burden on residents themselves. Both determinations are explained in more detail in the early pages of Roeck's paper, which is embedded beneath this article.

Specifically, his findings show the tax burden hurt residents of older suburbs that usually have low property tax bases and limited personal incomes among their residents.

The top 30 most heavily taxed N.J. towns:

30. Magnolia (Camden County)
29. Washington Borough (Warren County)
28. Mount Ephraim (Camden County)
27. Pompton Lakes (Passaic County)
26. Pohatcong (Warren County)
25. Willingboro (Burlington County)
24. Irvington (Essex County)
23. Newton (Sussex County)
22. Bloomingdale (Passaic County)
21. Ridgefield Park (Bergen County)
20. Glassboro (Gloucester County)
19. Barrington (Camden County)
18. Somerdale (Camden County)
17. Stratford (Camden County)
16. North Plainfield (Somerset County)
15. Penns Grove (Salem County)
14. Prospect Park (Passaic County)
13. East Orange (Essex County)
12. Haledon (Passaic County)
11. High Bridge (Hunterdon County)
10. Lindenwold (Camden County)
9. Orange (Essex County)
8. Laurel Springs (Camden County)
7. West Orange (Essex County)
6. Lawnside (Camden County)
5. Hillside (Union County)
4. Woodbury (Gloucester County)
3. Salem City (Salem County)
2. Roselle (Union County)
1. Woodlynne (Camden County)

The tiny borough of Alpine in Bergen County, known as the country's "wealthiest zip code," according to the release, had the lightest property tax burden.

Editor's note: This article has been updated to better reflect the methodology used in conducting the study.


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Emily Bader

Emily Bader

Emily Bader is the copy and web editor at NJBIZ. She is a Brielle, N.J. native and a Rutgers University alum. You can contact her at emilyb@njbiz.com or @emilybader on Twitter.

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Comments


doesnt matter said:
NJ needs to wake up and do serious property tax reform - !

November 14, 2014 2:13 pm

Rosa said:
If you study the tax tables for five minutes, you'll see that towns with higher home assessments have lower tax rates, while the opposite is true of towns with lower assessed homes. So in Woodlynne, their tax rate is super high but the average home assessment might be $79k, while Robbinsville has a low tax rate but assessments are really high and so the tax burden is much higher in Robbinsville. And I think yes, you can correlate home value/assessment with quality of life and schools. This list is looking strictly at tax rate, which is really meaningless. As someone pointed out above, why not rank them in tax rate to service ratio? Or some other meaningful way.

Also, Brian, don't be an idiot. Why would you suggest taxes get raised to make it more fair?? Towns need to spend more responsibly so that everyone's taxes can get lowered.

June 29, 2014 10:24 am



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