Property taxes are a primary source of revenue for many local governments. They're also a significant expense for homeowners, year in and year out. Even after you've paid off your mortgage , property taxes remain. That's why it's so important to understand your property tax bill. If you know how it's calculated, you'll have an idea of what your bill should be each year. Then you can budget accordingly, avoid ugly surprises and spot any costly errors on your bill.
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Your property tax bill is based on the assessed value of your property, any exemptions you qualify for and a property tax rate.
The assessed value of your property is determined on a certain date. In many jurisdictions, the value is assessed annually. In some jurisdictions, however, it's done every other year, only when the property is transferred or on another schedule. In some areas, the assessed value is the market value ; in other areas, the market value is multiplied by an assessment rate to determine the assessed value.
Exemptions might include a decrease in the assessed value of your property if you are an owner-occupant (sometimes called a homestead exemption ). The decrease in your property's assessed value says nothing about the actual market value of your property, but it does help lower your tax bill.
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An appraisal is a report done by an appraiser to determine value. The appraiser will use recently sold prices of similar properties making adjustments for differences between the subject property and the comparables. They will usually combine this "Market Approach" with a second method such as "Cost Approach" (determining the cost to rebuild) and/or "Income Apprcoach" (used on properties that produce income) to determine Value. Appraisals are done most commonly when a property is to be financed or refinanced, but may also be requested for a variety of other reasons.
Assessed value and appraised value will usually not be exactly the same on a property as the appraised value takes a snapshot in time and will be impacted by market activity.
By Diane Tuman
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