Big city taxes: Who pays what

Where does your city rank?

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By Julianne Pepitone, CNNMoney.com contributing writer

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NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- A streetlight is the perfect example of public works: Everyone uses it, and no one expects to pay for it.

But that's what could pop up in the electric bills for residents of the nation's capital. They were surprised in March when Washington, D.C., Mayor Adrien Fenty proposed a streetlight maintenance tax that would add $51 a year to residents' electric bills. It's just one way cash-strapped cities are scrambling in the recession.

"The cities are having a tough time as their tax collections fall, and they're looking to make it up where they can," said Josh Barro, staff economist at the Tax Foundation, a policy research group. "It's hard to pin a national trend on individual cities, but people are hurting."

According to a 2008 report from the government of the District of Columbia, based on annual data from 2007 (the most recent available), Americans are paying less in income, sales and property taxes around the country. (Data for 2008 will be released sometime between August and November.)

Residents of major East Coast cities like New York love to complain about the cost of living in their towns, but the Big Apple's tax burden didn't even crack the top 15 in 2007. In fact, two Midwestern cities and smaller Bridgeport, Conn., were in the top five tax-unfriendliest in 2007.

Still, the top two cities, Philadelphia and Baltimore, gave East Coast-ers something to grumble about. A family of three living in Philadelphia with an annual income of $75,000 would pay 15.5% in major state and local taxes. To top of page

Rank City State Income Property Sales Auto Total Rate
1 Philadelphia PA $5,036 $5,199 $1,046 $325 $11,606 15.5%
2 Baltimore MD $3,689 $4,797 $1,271 $314 $10,070 13.4%
3 Bridgeport CT $2,514 $5,680 $1,174 $302 $9,670 12.9%
4 Detroit MI $3,745 $3,998 $1,097 $383 $9,223 12.3%
5 Indianapolis IN $3,181 $4,080 $1,227 $171 $8,658 11.5%
6 Milwaukee WI $2,945 $4,103 $1,155 $393 $8,597 11.5%
7 Des Moines IA $2,354 $3,888 $1,249 $917 $8,409 11.2%
8 Louisville KY $4,582 $2,048 $1,123 $382 $8,135 10.8%
9 Columbus OH $3,640 $2,913 $1,206 $279 $8,039 10.7%
10 Jackson MS $1,875 $3,074 $1,622 $1,292 $7,863 10.5%
11 Omaha NE $2,038 $3,833 $1,323 $622 $7,817 10.4%
12 Charlotte NC $3,249 $2,391 $1,300 $739 $7,679 10.2%
13 Kansas City MO $2,793 $2,290 $1,672 $834 $7,588 10.1%
14 Atlanta GA $2,713 $2,659 $1,361 $719 $7,452 9.9%
15 Little Rock AR $2,500 $2,472 $1,788 $665 $7,425 9.9%
16 New York City NY $4,588 $1,039 $1,487 $268 $7,382 9.8%
17 Portland ME $2,910 $2,834 $842 $739 $7,324 9.8%
18 Providence RI $1,729 $2,993 $1,231 $1,371 $7,323 9.8%
19 Charleston WV $3,362 $1,694 $1,264 $875 $7,195 9.6%
20 Oklahoma City OK $2,704 $2,269 $1,747 $320 $7,040 9.4%
21 Wichita KS $2,408 $2,390 $1,659 $541 $6,997 9.3%
22 Columbia SC $2,753 $1,934 $1,303 $910 $6,901 9.2%
23 Minneapolis MN $2,821 $2,406 $1,238 $367 $6,832 9.1%
24 Albuquerque NM $1,968 $2,769 $1,797 $224 $6,758 9.0%
25 Burlington VT $1,701 $3,326 $1,064 $280 $6,371 8.5%
26 Birmingham AL $3,135 $1,093 $1,602 $525 $6,355 8.5%
27 Salt Lake City UT $3,149 $1,246 $1,430 $508 $6,333 8.4%
28 Wilmington DE $3,068 $3,004   $229 $6,301 8.4%
29 Portland OR $3,931 $2,099   $249 $6,278 8.4%
30 Virginia Beach VA $2,726 $1,750 $1,157 $596 $6,229 8.3%
31 New Orleans LA $2,298 $1,684 $1,743 $355 $6,080 8.1%
32 Boise ID $3,200 $1,268 $1,197 $330 $5,995 8.0%
33 Boston MA $3,214 $1,512 $638 $586 $5,950 7.9%
34 Fargo ND $594 $3,881 $1,038 $333 $5,846 7.8%
35 Newark NJ $1,117 $3,150 $1,207 $243 $5,717 7.6%
36 Houston TX   $3,808 $1,549 $282 $5,640 7.5%
37 WASHINGTON DC $2,931 $1,167 $1,170 $349 $5,617 7.5%
38 Denver CO $2,280 $1,105 $1,380 $806 $5,570 7.4%
39 Memphis TN   $3,427 $1,913 $220 $5,560 7.4%
40 Los Angeles CA $1,216 $2,083 $1,237 $842 $5,378 7.2%
41 Honolulu HI $3,438 $384 $1,147 $383 $5,352 7.1%
42 Chicago IL $2,019 $1,023 $1,624 $478 $5,144 6.9%
43 Billings MT $2,559 $1,865   $689 $5,113 6.8%
44 Phoenix AZ $1,241 $1,401 $1,849 $588 $5,079 6.8%
45 Sioux Falls SD   $2,760 $1,518 $294 $4,572 6.1%
46 Jacksonville FL   $2,456 $1,284 $195 $3,936 5.2%
47 Las Vegas NV   $2,251 $1,072 $486 $3,809 5.1%
48 Seattle WA   $1,698 $1,561 $457 $3,715 5.0%
49 Cheyenne WY   $1,326 $1,512 $665 $3,503 4.7%
50 Manchester NH   $2,349   $493 $2,842 3.8%
51 Anchorage AK   $2,572   $165 $2,737 3.6%
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