Ask any Wisconsin homeowner how high his or her property taxes are and you're likely to get this response: too high.
But how high are the state's property taxes really? And how do those taxes match up with home values in the county?
These are the questions addressed by economists at the Tax Policy Center in a report released late last year.
Using data from the Census Bureau's American Community Survey, the report's authors examined residential property taxes in every U.S. county from 2007 to 2011, looking at how much homeowners were paying on average and how that average compared to average home sale prices over the same time period.
The data contained some interesting, though perhaps not surprising, revelations about Wisconsin's property taxes:
• Dane County levied the state's highest average property tax in dollars — $4,279 — and ranked 61st among all U.S. counties examined in the report.
• Waukesha County had the highest average home price in the state at $261,100, which puts the county 207th in the country.
But the most surprising fact revealed in the data was about which county had the highest taxes when weighed against the average home price.
Believe it or not, residents of Menominee County, population 4,317, paid an average of 2.61 percent of their home values in property taxes, making it number 20 in the nation and placing it in the company of counties in New York and other northeastern states, according to the report's authors.
For comparison, Dane County residents paid an average of 1.85 percent over the same time period. The statewide average was 1.84 percent.
It should be noted that the period this report examines covers the Great Recession, which saw home values plummet in much of the country while municipalities struggled to make up for lost state and federal funds. So it's probably best to view this report as a snapshot of the times we're living in rather than as an example of the way things are in better economic times.
Check out the map below to see the average property taxes paid in each county. Click on the "As percent of home value" tab to see a different view of the data.
Hover your mouse over any county to see more details about the average property taxes in that county.
Source: "Residential Property Taxes in the United States," Tax Policy Center, Nov. 18, 2013