How Local Governments Raise Their Tax Dollars



Property taxes are most common, but some rely more on sales and income levies

According to Pew Research, for each tax dollar that cities and counties collect overall, about 61% comes from property tax, 16% from general sales tax, 7% from income tax, and the remaining 16% from other taxes such as those on entertainment and alcoholic beverages licenses.

Other key highlights of local tax revenue:

  • Property taxes are the largest source of tax revenue for local governments in 40 states. Localities in every state levy property taxes, with cities and counties in Connecticut and Maine collecting the highest share (98%) of their total tax revenue from them.
  • General sales taxes are the largest source of local tax revenue in eight of the 37 states that collect them. Oklahoma’s local governments are the most reliant on general sales taxes at 66% of total tax revenue.
  • Personal income taxes are a source of local revenue in only 11 states. Localities in Kentucky (45%) and Ohio (41%) receive most of their local tax revenue from this source.

Taxes make up over 60% of local governments’ total revenue from local sources (that is, funding not from state and federal government), with the remainder coming from service charges, fees, utility revenue, and others. This infographic illustrates the sources of local tax revenue in each state as of 2017, the latest year for which data is available.

Mix of Local Tax Sources by State, FY 2017

Select revenue sources below to highlight them and resort the chart:

Property tax
General sales tax
Individual income tax

Source: Pew analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data