Cities With the Highest, Lowest Tax Rates

Wyoming is something of an anomaly. Not only does Cheyenne offer low property taxes, but the state has no personal income tax. How can it afford such skimpy tax laws? The state generates significant revenue from oil and mineral taxes, and that seems to be plenty effective. Unlike some of its low-property-tax counterparts, Wyoming is looking at a budget surplus.

3. Birmingham, Ala.

Nominal Rate (per $100): $6.95 Assessment Level: 10 percent Effective Rate (per $100): $0.70

In Birmingham, the issue of raising property taxes has become a religious debate — quite literally. Professor Susan Hamill of the University of Alabama School of Law is arguing that the state needs to change its entire tax structure (property, sales and income) on Judeo-Christian grounds. That is, because taxes are so low, the state can't afford to take care of its poorest residents. Religious fervor aside, the city is still considering shaving $30 million in school spending and raising an additional $10 million in property taxes in order to close the budget gap.

2. Denver, Colo.

Nominal Rate (per $100): $5.68 Assessment Level: 9.2 percent Effective Rate (per $100): $0.52

Ten years ago, Coloradoans approved tax-limitation (and government-spending) legislation called the Taxpayer's Bill Of Rights. These days, in the midst of a statewide budgetary crisis, officials are trying to figure out how to get around the tax restrictions. Denver public schools are aiming to cut $12 million in spending; and because the county is prohibited from raising property taxes, officials are hoping that increased sales taxes will be able to generate enough revenue to close the gap. The mayor is also said to be considering enacting five-day furloughs to reduce costs.

1. Honolulu, Hawaii

Nominal Rate (per $100): $0.37 Assessment Level: 100 percent Effective Rate (per $100): $0.37

Considering that Honolulu's major industry is tourism, it's not surprising that the county generates most of its tax revenue from sales taxes. But it may not stay that way for long. Honolulu Mayor Jeremy Harris just submitted his $1.8 billion operating budget, which would be subsidized in part by a 2.7 percent increase in residential property taxes.

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