Your property tax bill is mostly based on your property’s location and value. Here’s how it works & how to pay.
Property tax, sometimes called an ad valorem tax, is a tax on real estate and some other types of property. Local governments typically assess property tax, and the property owner pays the tax. The property tax is usually based on the property location and how much it’s worth.
Property tax is typically determined by multiplying the value of the property by a tax rate:
Property tax = (value of the property) x (tax rate)
Here’s what goes into determining the two components of your tax bill.
Assessors (sometimes called appraisers) who work for the local taxing authority track the value of every piece of land and real estate in a taxing district, such as a city or county. They maintain databases of local property values, often using sophisticated mapping software.
Your home’s assessed value will likely be less than its market value. By how much less will vary by location, but it’s common.
The county may have many ways to detect changes in your home’s value, including inspections, permit applications from a remodeling project, reports from neighbors or regular updates.
Cars, machinery and other property might be subject to personal property tax.
Real estate tax rates are often based on the “millage rate,” where one mill is equal to one-thousandth of a dollar. Your tax rate might not be expressed as a percentage, but rather as some number of mills.
Generally, property taxes go to the local government in order to fund school districts, police and fire departments, road construction and other local services.
If you disagree with a property tax bill on your home, you can challenge it by challenging your home’s assessed valuation. You’ll need to show that the assessed value doesn’t reflect your property’s true value.
Typically, there are two ways to pay the bill:
Don’t assume you’re paying your property tax when you give money to the escrow company. Think of that as “saving up” for the tax bill. The escrow company uses the money in your escrow account to pay your tax when the bill arrives.
Failing to pay can result in the taxing authority placing a tax lien on the property. A tax lien is a legal claim against property or financial assets you own or may have coming to you. It’s not a seizure of your assets, but it is a claim on them. If you sell the asset, the government could be entitled to some or all of the proceeds.
Buyers and sellers often discover tax liens on properties by doing a title search.
If you’re trying to pay property tax online, find tax records, or wondering how much the tax is in your area, check out your home county’s tax assessor website.
Alameda County: Alameda County property tax lookup https://www.acgov.org/propertytax/
Link to Alameda County Property Assessment: https://acgov.org/MS/prop/index.aspx
Santa Clara County: Santa Clara County property tax lookup https://www.sccgov.org/sites/scc/Documents/home.html
San Francisco County: City & County of San Francisco Officer of the Treasurer & Tax Collector https://sftreasurer.org/property/make-property-tax-payment
Link to Alameda County Property Assessment:
Los Angeles: Los Angeles County property tax https://lacounty.gov/taxes-payments/property-assessments/
San Diego: San Diego County Treasurer – Tax Collector https://www.sandiegocounty.gov/content/sdc/auditor/ptsfaq.html
Southern California: Orange County property tax https://www.ttc.ocgov.com/proptax/
Phoenix area: Arizona Department of Revenue https://azdor.gov/businesses-arizona/property-tax
Denver: https://www.denvergov.org/content/denvergov/en/denver-department-of-finance/our-divisions/treasury-division/property-taxes.html Denver County property tax information
Chicago area: https://www.cookcountyil.gov/service/property-tax-portal https://www.hennepin.us/residents/property/property-tax-payment-optionsCook County, Illinois property tax portal
Minneapolis area: https://www.hennepin.us/residents/property/property-tax-payment-options Hennepin County property tax
New Jersey: https://www.state.nj.us/treasury/taxation/lpt/localtax.shtml New Jersey Division of Taxation
New York City: https://www1.nyc.gov/site/finance/taxes/property.page New York City Department of Finance Property Tax
Houston area: https://www.harriscountytx.gov/ Harris County, Texas tax assessor
Dallas/Fort Worth area: http://access.tarrantcounty.com/en/tax/property-tax.html Tarrant County, Texas Property Tax Division
App Store: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/alameda-county-property/id619990333?mt=8
Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.acgov.alameda.county.property