Understanding Property Taxes: The Fundamentals

May 3, 2019

If you’re approaching the issue of property taxes for the first time, the sheer volume of information you encounter in even a Google search can be daunting. But don’t be discouraged. While property tax laws vary across the United States, there are some constants that apply everywhere.

Who Calculates Your Property’s Value?

The responsibility for calculating your home’s value for tax purposes is the tax assessor’s office in your city, township, borough, or county. The assessor is answerable to your municipality’s department of revenue and is subject to state tax laws and regulations.

What is Property Classification?

The first step in determining your property taxes is to classify your property according to its use. Municipalities typically contain several types of property. Residential, of course, accounts for structures and land used for home occupancy that does not generate income for the owner. Commercial properties are those that directly generate income for the owner, either through rentals (such as an apartment complex) or via business operations (such as a clothing store or auto body shop). The industrial classification is usually reserved for heavy industry (manufacturing, mining, logging, shipping), while the agricultural classification applies to land that generates revenue through farming.

How Are Residential Property Taxes Calculated?

Tax assessed values are used only by the property tax authority of your county or municipality in order to bill you properly. Your home’s appraised value represents the fair market value of the property, which depends on both market trends and the condition of the property itself. Counties and municipalities tax properties within their boundaries and use the funds for schools, community improvement projects, etc. To do this, they must determine the tax assessed value of each residential property within their jurisdiction. Tax assessment is usually based on reviewing data from your area or neighborhood (such as the recent valuations or sale prices of similar homes in your vicinity) and is done without an assessor coming to the home.

How Often Are Properties Assessed?

Frequency of community tax assessment depends on the county or municipality where you live. Some counties re-assess annually, while others do so every other year or less often.

What Factors Can Affect Your Property’ Value?

There are many factors that can affect the value of a single residential property. These include its location, its condition, any improvements made to the property, any recently constructed structures that have increased the property’s footprint, and any renovations that have increased the property’s “curb appeal” (such as new doors, windows, siding, or paint).

Can You Challenge a Property Tax Assessment?

Yes. If you disagree with your homes valuation or your tax bill, you may challenge the assessment. First, you may request a copy of the appraisal report and check for any errors could result in your property being undervalued. For example, check that the number of rooms in your home s correctly noted in the report, as well as the square footage of the home and the acreage of any attendant land. Also, check for invalid comparisons. Remember that assessors often determine an individual property’s value by looking at the values of similar properties nearby For example, if similar properties in your neighborhood have paved driveways and garages but yours does not, you may be receiving an unfairly high valuation on your property. You can also request a value appeal from your lender, but be prepared to show specific evidence why you believe you property has been incorrectly valued. And finally, check all work permits on the property for the prior assessment period. Assessors often use the number of work permits submitted for a property to help them estimate the type and nature of improvements that can affect the property’s value. Please keep in mind that you do not necessarily need an attorney to challenge a property tax assessment.

We hope this brief review helps you gain a clearer understanding of the fundamentals that affect your home’s value and the property taxes you pay. To learn how you can save money on your property taxes and make smart investments in your home’s value, contact our skilled professionals at Home Tax Savings today!


About is wholly owned by Assessment Solutions, LLC and was established in 2016 as the nation’s first fully automated and integrated real estate assessment review and appeal system. The principals of have worked in the real estate and IT world for over 100 years. Founders Keith McIntosh, Stuart Smith, Rachel Brown and Mandeep Sandhu possess a vast knowledge of the industry with many years of experience.  The group is gaining wide popularity having covered The District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia, Texas, Colorado, Georgia, Florida, California and Washington.Disclaimer:  This article is for informational and educational purposes only. The website is not a market value appraisal, rather it is an assessment tool.