You Are Paying the Highest Residential Property Tax Rate in the United States

Today the El Paso City Council is voting to issue another $96 million in Certificates of Obligation.

Certificates of Obligation debt is debt that you, the voters and the taxpayers, weren’t consulted on.

El Paso has more Certificate of Obligation debt than any other city in Texas.

By a lot.

That $541.1 million in CO debt in that chart there is old information. By the end of this fiscal year, you’ll be able to add another $200 million to that. At least. More than 40% of the City’s debt now comes from Certificates of Obligation, debt that City Council took on without asking you.

All that debt is why El Paso has the highest residential property tax rates in the United States, according to this 50-State Property Tax Comparison Study for Taxes Paid in 2020 from the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy.

The survey reports that Detroit has a higher property tax rate than El Paso, but Detroit also has assessment limits. That means that taxable values significantly increase only when a property changes hands. Otherwise, the assessed value is limited to the rate of inflation, or 5%, whichever is less. So if you’ve lived in your house for five years, or ten years, or longer, you’re probably paying a higher property tax rate than someone in Detroit who has lived in the their house for a comparable period.

No city in Texas has assessment limits, which leads me to believe that it might be illegal in Texas for a city to impose assessment limits.

Looking at last year’s data to figure out where we’re headed is kind of like driving down the road looking in the rear-view mirror. But judging by City Council’s willingness to issue new debt, things aren’t getting any better.


  1. Corruption or incompetence? Or both? These folks benefit in the sense that their sponsors will keep funding their campaigns, but the REAL winners are….(you fill in the blank)

  2. Meanwhile, the existing infrastructure is inadequate or falling apart. We still have flooding after pissing away who knows how many millions on “flood control” and storm water drainage and similarly titled schemes. We pay who knows how many millions more in ‘franchise fees’ (to publicly owned utilities!), and upfront costs for electric, gas, water, and sewage. The complete and utter irony of it all is that – for some of us, at least – it is still cheaper to live here than to attempt to relocate to another Texas city!

  3. I shared this on Facebook–getting lots of traction, and people are ANGRY. BUT….they need to get organized with others to ACT on this anger.

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