Property taxes are levies which are imposed on the value of real property owners solely as a result of the legal ownership of a specific property, regardless of whether the property is used for residential or commercial purposes. The definition of real property is land with or without permanent structures attached. The determination of the property tax is assessed through local or district governments. Property tax exemptions, either full or partial, may be available to qualified individuals or organizations, and will vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. The property tax valuation is based upon the property’s market, assessed or appraised value.
Each jurisdiction will set its own tax rates, and methods of assessment. Assessments are carried out by an assessor, who is either elected or appointed. The property assessor’s goal is to determine the fair market value of all properties within the jurisdiction. There are three general approaches to the assessment of real property:
- The Market Approach provides comparison of two properties, the assessed property and a property that was recently sold, which share similar characteristics.
- The Cost Approach is an estimation of the replacement cost of an existing structure, taking depreciation into account.
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- The Income Approach analyzes the property based on its revenue generation capacity.
Revenues from property tax collection are an important source of funding for many social services and programs, including law enforcement, fire protection, public school system, public libraries, etc.
The property tax bill is mainly based on the assessment value and the tax rate of the jurisdictions in which the real property is located. Property taxes are re-evaluated on a regular basis, as determined by the jurisdiction. Property owners have the right to appeal an assessment that they believe is unfair.