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If you are a homeowner in Blaine County, Idaho you may have some questions about the way your property is assessed. The assessed value of your home helps to determine how much tax you pay. All assessments should be accurate so that all taxpayers pay their fair share of the total property tax.
Most frequently asked questions about property assessment and taxes:
HOW IS PROPERTY ASSESSED?
Idaho law requires that all taxable property be assessed at market value each year. To do this, the county assessor develops valuation guidelines based on the sales prices and some of the features of homes that have recently sold. Some of the features that often influence what a buyer would pay for your home and land include size, quality, age, condition, and location.
The county assessor uses this information to estimate how much a buyer might reasonably pay for your home if it were to sell on January 1 of the assessment year.
WHAT IS MARKET VALUE?
Market value is the value that property would sell for in the open market. It is the amount of U.S. dollars or equivalent for which a property would probably exchange hands between a willing seller and an informed buyer.
HOW OFTEN ARE PROPERTY VALUES ADJUSTED?
The value of your property may change each year depending on real estate market changes.
An appraiser from the county assessor’s office is required to visit your property at least once in each five-year period. During the other four years, the county assessor will use information from property sales and/or from the inspections of other properties to estimate the current market value for your property.
HOW CAN YOUR PROPERTY BE ASSESSED ON IMPROVEMENTS WHEN I HAVEN’T MADE ANY?
The term “improvements,” as used in property assessment, does not refer just to remodeling, renovating or upgrading. “Improvements” are buildings (your house, garage, manufactured home, etc.), paving, or other structures that add value to land, regardless of when they were completed.
WHAT MAKES PROPERTY REAL OR PERSONAL?
Real property consists of land and the improvements that are attached to it. Personal property normally is not attached to the land; it is generally mobile and does not last as long as real property. A copy machine is an example of personal property.
Personal property that is used by the owner in his private home is not subject to property tax. An example is household furnishings. If the same property is used in a business activity, whether in a private home or elsewhere, it is subject to property tax.
Properly registered vehicles, including recreational vehicles, are not subject to property tax.
HOW DO YOU KNOW WHAT VALUE THE ASSESSOR HAS ESTIMATED FOR YOUR PROPERTY?
The value for your property is shown on your assessment notice. The county assessor usually mails this notice to you by the first Monday in June. If you do not receive this notice, contact the county assessor.
WHAT IF YOU DISAGREE WITH THE VALUE THE ASSESSOR ESTIMATED FOR YOUR PROPERTY?
Your county assessor maintains a file of information on your property. If you have any questions about your assessment, you should contact your county assessor to review the accuracy of the records. You may appeal the valuation to the Board of Equalization for the county in which the property is located. This board consists of the county commissioners. Most appeals must be filed with your county clerk by the fourth Monday in June. Properties assessed at other times of the year have different appeal dates.
Property values maintained by your county assessor are public records. You may also ask to review the value of other properties in that county.
HOW IS YOUR PROPERTY TAX DETERMINED?
The amount of tax is determined from the budget needs of the taxing districts. There are many kinds of taxing districts in Idaho. Some, like cities and counties, levy taxes to provide a wide range of services. Others levy taxes for specific purposes like highways, schools, or fire protections.
Officials for each taxing district determine the annual budget needed to provide services for the district. The approved budget is divided by the total taxable value of all properties within the district.
The result is the district’s tax rate. This rate, multiplied by the taxable value of your property, determines the amount of taxes you owe to that district.
Every property is located within several independent taxing districts. This means your property tax bill includes taxes for all the districts. This means your property tax bill includes taxes for all the districts in which you live. This combination of taxing districts is known as a “tax code area.” Each of these areas is assigned a number which appears on your assessment notice and tax bill. Within each tax code area, the total tax rate is generally the same for all properties.
The taxable value of your property determines how much tax you pay in relation to other properties. Assessments must be accurate for all taxpayers to pay their fair share of the total property taxes.
WHEN WILL YOU GET YOUR PROPERTY TAX BILL?
You should usually receive your tax bill by the end of November. Contact your county treasurer if you have questions about your tax bill.
HOW CAN YOUR TAXES GO UP IF YOUR PROPERTY’S TAXABLE VALUE DOES NOT INCREASE?
Tax rates may be affected by a variety of factors. Rates may increase due to a taxing district’s emergency needs or voter-approved bonds and override levies. Total tax rates may increase due to the creation of a new taxing district that includes your property.
As an example, business has declined and slowed for local industry or agriculture, a county’s economy may suffer and affected property values may go down. However, your taxes may be higher since taxing districts still need to pay for basic services.
ARE THERE LIMITS ON PROPERTY TAX INCREASES?
Yes, there are limits on property tax increases. First of all, most taxing districts have limits on the tax rates they may charge. Second, districts other than schools are limited to annual increases of 3% plus an allowance for growth on a portion of their budgets. The growth allowance is determined on the basis of new construction and annexation that occurred during the previous year.
WHY DO YOU PAY HIGHER TAXES THAN YOUR NEIGHBOR?
You may live in a different taxing district than your neighbor. There may be enough differences in size, quality, or condition of land that will result in value differences between the properties.
Also, your neighbor may be eligible for some form of property tax reduction for which you either did not qualify or did not apply.
IS ANY TAX RELIEF AVAILABLE TO HOMEOWNERS?
Yes. Idaho has a homeowner’s exemption for owner-occupied homes, including manufactured homes, which are primary dwellings. This exempts 50% or $101,153, whichever is less, of the value of your home . Taxes are computed on the remaining value. You may also receive the homeowner’s exemption if you are paying occupancy taxes.
Applications are available from your county assessor’s office. When an application is approved, the exemption is permanent as long as you own and occupy the property. If the property is sold, the new owner must file a new application. There are no income or age restrictions, but you can qualify for an exemption on only one home at a time. You must own and occupy your home on January 1 of the tax year and must apply for an exemption by April 15th.
You may also qualify for a property tax reduction if you meet the income requirements and fit one of the following categories:
Age 65 or older, Widow(er)
Fatherless or Motherless Minor
Qualifying Disabled Persons
Applications may be obtained from your county assessor and must be filed each year between January 1 and April 15.
WHAT IS AN OCCUPANCY TAX?
If you buy a home that no one has ever lived in and move into it after January 1, you will be charged an occupancy tax. You will pay the occupancy tax instead of property taxes for the portion of the year you live there.
WHAT IF YOU CAN’T AFFORD TO PAY YOUR TAXES?
If you cannot afford to pay your taxes, you may apply to your county commissioners for a hardship exemption. Most applicants must file by June 20 to request a hardship exemption from the current year’s taxes.
WHEN MUST PROPERTY TAXES BE PAID?
Taxes for most property may be paid in two equal installments, with the first half due December 20 and the second half due the following June 20. However, the full year’s tax on a manufactured home must be paid before it may be moved.
Property taxes are paid to the county treasurer. Installment payments are permitted; contact your county treasurer for more information.
WHAT HAPPENS IF YOUR TAXES AREN’T PAID ON TIME?
Taxes are delinquent if they are not paid by the due date.
Delinquent taxes accrue interest and penalty. Property taxes are a lien against your property. If taxes are unpaid three years after the due date, real property such as land and houses can be sold to satisfy the lien. Personal property, which includes certain manufactured housing, can be sold immediately after taxes become delinquent.