With April 15th quickly approaching, residents everywhere are beginning to prepare for their taxes. Any level of government – city, county, state, or federal — can collect taxes including property taxes. For new and old homeowners alike, it’s important to know and understand property taxes, so we’ve compiled a list of some of the most commonly asked questions regarding property taxes.
What happens if I don’t pay my property taxes?
Not paying your property taxes is a very bad idea. Governments need to rely on the revenue from property taxes to continue functioning, so if taxes go delinquent for too long, they will place a lien on the property.
When this happens, a lien certificate is formed and the city auctions it off to investors. This way, the city can collect some or all of the property tax you owe. The investor then assumes responsibility for collecting that money back from you, at a rate of interest determined at the auction.
After a given amount of time, the lien holder could foreclose on your home. This is the worst case scenario, but very possible if taxes remain unpaid.
What if I disagree with my property tax rate?
While the exact rate of property tax is determined by the government doing the taxing, the amount that is taxed is determined by a property assessor. The assessor’s job is to examine the property and determine an estimate of its actual market value. This value is used in the calculation to determine your tax: the higher the value, the higher the tax.
For that reason, if a property assessor determines the value of your home to be higher than you think is fair, you can usually contest it. Before doing so, try and gather as much evidence as possible about your specific situation, such as the market value of nearby homes and, if possible, the amount of their assessments.
Why has my property tax bill increased from last year?
Because the property tax is based on the assessed value of the home, most tax bills will increase from year to year. There are several reasons for this. First, the market value of homes has traditionally risen over time. Second, inflation means that prices tend to creep upward even if nothing else changes. Third, governments in general will vote to spend more year to year, not less; since property tax is one of the greatest revenue generators in most localities, it’s a very common target for small increases whenever budget concerns arise.
What do property taxes cover?
The exact programs property taxes are spent on differs from county to county. In general, they support many community services and public resources, including public schools, road maintenance, electrical and sewer maintenance, severe weather response such as road salting, and public property such as baseball fields, parks, and public swimming pools.
What type of payment is accepted?
The exact way that property taxes are paid differs depending on your county, but in general it is paid like any other bill and any option you have available to you may be valid. Often you can simply mail a check or take one down to the county clerk’s office. Some counties may offer installment plans for payment of property taxes; if not, property tax loan services can let you stagger your property tax payments over time by receiving a loan from a third party and repaying the lender.
If you have further questions, it may be in your best interest to consult a property tax expert. Propel Tax is a property tax loan company that can address all your questions as you seek financial relief from your property tax bill.