While homeowners can expect to pay property taxes each and every year, they don’t always notice how much they are paying. Unlike a sales tax, property taxes are very complicated and often differ from town to town. Each local government has its own set of codes and rates that determine how much the local taxpayers will pay, and homeowners have seen a gradual increase in the amount that they must pay each year. Despite the fact that property taxes are determined using the local tax rate and the property’s value, there are still several factors that can cause taxes to go up.
Increase in Benefits for Public Employees
Most government employees enjoy benefits that are 45 percent higher than those earned by employees in the public sector. Unions and other organizations are constantly working to increase the amount of wages, healthcare benefits and pensions that employees are entitled to receive, and the national government cannot provide all of these benefits in the current economy. This causes local governments to make up the difference by raising property taxes for homeowners in the region.
If the state or local government has implemented budget cuts, homeowners are often required to cover the loss by paying more in property taxes. Since these taxes are used to pay for public schools, hospitals, fire departments, libraries and other public services, property taxes often rise even when the economy is suffering.
When property owners renovate their homes, it can cause their property tax rates to increase. Since renovations are improvements, they raise the value of the home, which then causes the homeowner’s property values to go up. A tax assessor may look through building permits to determine what renovations have been done, or he may walk through the home to evaluate the building’s condition. Homeowners will also pay more if they have added on to the home or have converted the garage into a living space.
If a homeowner has recently added a patio, deck, shed or garden to the property, then he can expect to pay more in property taxes. Many local governments consider these to be improvements to the property, which increases the overall value of the home.
The location of a home is a large factor in determining its worth. If the property is near a popular lake or close to the city, then it will be assessed at a higher value. New businesses, such as a golf course, may also increase the value, which will mean that homeowners will pay higher taxes.
Homeowners do not have much control over what they pay in property taxes, but they can make sure that they are actively involved in the public process. If you are interested in learning more about your property taxes, attend meetings and hearings about the local tax rate. When you vote for local government officials, be knowledgeable about their position on taxes. You should also carefully examine your tax statement to identify any enhancements or errors in the value of your property. If you think a mistake has been made, you can file for an appeal. This will help you make sure that you are paying the lowest possible taxes on your home despite increasing property tax rates.
Jayson works for Republic Property Tax in Houston, TX. He enjoys studying personal finance and loves advising people on how to save money on their property taxes.