Understanding Your Property Tax Bill

Taxes tend to be one of those “thorn in the side” issues and property taxes are no exception.  We’re going to focus the next few blog entries around things that can help relieve some of that pain. We’ll start by making sure that we are all on the same sheet of music. The first thing to understand about your property tax bill is the terminology. Many people look at the tax bill and see a bunch of numbers that have no meaning to them. In reality, they do have a special meaning to the property owner. If you do not understand what the sections on your property tax bill mean, you might not know if this bill is correct or not. Here are some terms that you need to understand when looking at the tax bill.

Fair cash value is what the property can be sold for between two parties without any duress. The assessed value of the property is what the city or county deems a fair assessment of what the property is worth. This is figured out by comparing your property to similar properties in the same area that have sold recently.

Exemption means the removal of said property from the tax base; this is only a part of the assessed value of the property. This might hold true for a church that is only used for religious activities. It may also be due to a homestead exemption. If it is for a home that is considered a religious property for worship only, you can claim the tax exempt status if you only use it for church activities with no personal use.

When you look at the property tax bill, you will see the tax rate. This is the tax due on the property after being calculated with percentages of the tax base. The term taxing district represents the schools and local government that has the levy against your property taxes. The tax code is used for office purposes of the county clerk that represents a combination of taxing structures or bodies.

For those who have a lottery, you will see a section where it states that you are receiving a lottery credit, which will lower your total property tax due. Everyone in the county receives a lottery credit and that is why the credits are usually very small in amounts. The lottery credit will affect your total tax due and not the tax base.

Once you understand the property tax bill terminology, it does make it a little easier to understand the bill. If you do see problems or you have issues with the tax bill, you can request a property tax appeal with the help of a property tax lawyer or consultant. It is always wise to consult an attorney before taking such a step where property tax and the government are concerned. We’ll cover these topics in some of our upcoming blog entries.

If you see that your lottery credit is missing or different from others, you might need to question this or question your assessed value of the property. You might even have questions regarding the fair market value of your property.  You can always question the bill before paying it, if you do not receive answers that you understand, visit a property tax consultant and see if they can help explain the answers you need to your questions. 

If you have any specific questions concerning property taxes, please post your comments and questions in the comment section below.  We’ve got several more areas that we’ll cover in the next few days, so please return frequently for “The Rest of the Story”.

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