What You Need to Know About Property Taxes
Just like your electric and water bills, property tax is a necessary expense of owning a home. Sometimes referred to as “ad valorem tax,” property tax is a tax on real estate that’s usually based on property location and value. Local governments are in charge of the appraisal, and the owners are responsible for payment. It seems simple enough, but how does it really work? Here are four things you need to know about property taxes:
Property Taxes Fund Your Community
The money you pay in property taxes helps fund the “Five S’s” of your community: schools, safety, spaces, streets, and sanitation. This means that you help fund local schools, firefighters, and police officers. Your taxes also fund the upkeep of public parks and recreation areas. They also help maintain streets, trash collection, and other waste management services.
Property Taxes Are Deductible
You can deduct the amount of property taxes you pay by itemizing your deductions on your federal income tax return. Note that this does not apply to the cost of special assessments. Property taxes can also be paid through an escrow account. If you use an escrow account, you can only deduct the amount paid to the government, even if you put more into escrow during the year.
Not paying your property taxes can lead to the government placing a lien on your home, or a legal claim against your property. It isn’t a seizure of your home, but rather a claim to it. If you sell property with a tax lien on it, the government may take some or all of the profits. Take special note of tax deadlines in your county and reach out to your assessor’s office with any questions.
You Can Appeal Your Assessment
Disagree with the value of your property assessment? You can request an appeal from your county assessor’s office. First take a look at comparable properties in your neighborhood within the same tax classification. Look for houses with similar age, size, and amenities as yours. If you find they are paying less in property taxes – you’re in luck. You may be able to qualify for a lower amount after submitting your appeal. There’s a specific time frame when your county will accept appeals, so be sure to abide by all rules listed on their website.
Bill Hullander is the Trustee for Hamilton County. Tax notices are mailed out in late September of each year, with payments beginning October 1st through the last day of February of the following year. Beginning March 1st, unpaid taxes become delinquent and accrue 1.5 percent per month interest. More information is available on the county’s FAQ page.
Neva Webb is the Trustee for Rhea County. Tax notices are mailed out in late September of each year, with payments beginning October 1st through the last day of February of the following year. Beginning March 1st, unpaid taxes become delinquent and accrue 1.5 percent per month interest. More information is available on the county’s website.