Understanding The Essence Of Your Property Tax

Monday, March 1, 2010, 12:25 AM | Leave Comment

Your property tax, as you might very well know, is a big source of public safety [police, firefighters, etc.], schools, roads, libraries, and other services in your town and almost all American communities. During the last few decades, on and off, there have been efforts to stop more increase in local property taxes in the form of putting in some type of cap or reducing it altogether. Some experts say property taxes generally are low by historical standards when measured as a share of the economy. I say if they are low, it sure does not feel that way.

Types of caps on property tax
There are several ways your dearest town can increase or decrease property tax in the form of putting caps on it:

  • Rate caps – place a ceiling on the property tax rate.
  • Assessment caps – limit the annual increase in the assessed value of any individual’s property.
  • Total levy caps – are the most restrictive type of caps and tend to limit the annual increase in a locality’s total property tax revenue.

Does the cap last forever?Are the caps on property tax essential?
You can argue forever in favor or against. There are legit reasons at both end of the spectrum. Folks in favor of caps argue that tight property tax caps will force localities to provide services more cost-effectively, or to eliminate services that are not needed. Opponents contend that caps are more likely to force localities to cut necessary services. However, there must be a middle of the road of compromise between the two sides so that neither there is degradation of the services nor unnecessary bloating of the property tax.

In a Nutshell
Some experts and the so called think-tank guys suggest that in lieu of caps, states can provide targeted tax relief to property owners facing the sometimes unaffordable high tax bills in ways that do not undermine public services.

How is your town holding up as far as property tax goes? Is there a cap on it and what kind of cap? If there is no cap and it’s increasing every time there is town assessment of the property, what are you doing about it? What can you do about it? Better to get involved in your town affairs especially when it comes to your property tax.

What do you think?

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