Property tax is a main source of income for local governments and school districts. Property tax assessment is both the process for determining your property's value for tax purposes, and the amount of tax you owe. Find out the answers to common questions about property tax and understand your bill.
- How do I qualify for a homestead exemption and what is it for?
- I disagree with the assessment on my property. What can I do?
- My assessment increased a lot this past year. Why?
- My assessment is more than what my property is worth. Why?
- The assessed value of my home didn't change, but my taxes went up. Why?
- What property is subject to property taxes?
Q: How do I qualify for a homestead exemption and what is it for?
- A:Homestead exemptions exclude some of the value of property from taxation and are controlled by state law. Contact your county assessor or appraiser for the requirements in your area and how to apply.You may qualify for other exemptions, such as those given based on age, disability or status as a widow or widower.
Q: I disagree with the assessment on my property. What can I do?
- A:Your tax assessment likely contains directions for an appeal. Read your bill or assessment carefully, and watch for the time limits for challenging your assessment.
Normally you must request a hearing before the body that does assessments, such as a review board. At the hearing you must provide evidence showing why the assessment is incorrect. There viewing body makes a decision on the assessment based on your evidence. Under state law, you may have the right to an appeal before the governing agency, or to your state's courts.
Before you file an appeal, it's a good idea to start with a call to your assessor's or appraiser's office. Often talking with the assessor can solve your problem, or you'll at least get a better understanding of your assessment as you prepare your appeal. Your state may have also have mediation provisions for assessment appeals.
Q: My assessment increased a lot this past year. Why?
- A:It's possible that prior year assessments weren't accurate because of few sales in the area. If so, your assessment now reflects several years of increases in property value.Changes in tax rates may have taken effect,for example,maybe a referendum for school funding passed, and the increase is now seen in your assessment.
Q: My assessment is more than what my property is worth. Why?
- A:You may not be up on market values, or it's possible your assessment doesn't reflect today's market values. If you bought your home some years ago, you might not have an accurate picture of market value. The reverse is true as well; the current year's assessment may be based on average property values over two or three recent years. For example, a 2010 tax bill might be based on property values from 2007-2009. If values drop, it may take time for the property tax assessments to catch up.
Check your tax bill or contact your assessor's office for details on how assessments are made.
Q: The assessed value of my home didn't change, but my taxes went up. Why?
- A:Check the specific taxes assessed against your property. It's possible that a taxing authority increased the level of their tax against your property. In a down market, property values may be down, so a taxing body, such as your city, school district or library, responds by taxing property at a higher rate to generate the desired amount of income.
Q: What property is subject to property taxes?
- A:This depends entirely on state law. Commonly, real property is taxed. Personal property may or may not be taxed.