A notice for taxes owed on your property likely already has landed in your mailbox. They will be due in October.
Taxpayers often have questions about what exactly the taxes they must pay are for — especially if the total is higher than what they owed last year.
Ron Shelby serves as chief financial officer for the city of Woodstock and provided some information about property taxes that can help you understand what you’re paying for before the bill comes due.
Where do property taxes go?
Your property taxes, along with other fines and fees, are used to fund debt service and general fund expenditures, including, but not limited to, emergency services, public works, parks and municipal court.
What causes taxes assessed to change from year to year?
In general, nearby home sale prices over the previous 12 months affect the home sale value of a person’s home, and new construction affects the overall size of the city’s tax digest. The tax assessor’s office can provide further information.
Does buying or selling land have an effect on taxes that will be assessed?
Yes, a parcel’s value consists of two parts: the value of the land itself and the value of the improvements made on the land (e.g., a home). The tax assessor’s office values both separately, and they are impacted by recent nearby sales of both parcels that are only land and those that have improvements built on the land. Values are set for each portion separately.
Why might rates in a nearby city or county be different?
A millage rate is proposed by a jurisdiction in order to bring in enough revenue to support services. Services vary by entity, some of which are provided by choice due to the unique needs of the residents. Others are mandatory services for a particular jurisdiction dictated by the state Legislature. As a result, budgets vary in size, depending upon the services in that jurisdiction.
Are there any exemptions or qualifications that can reduce my bill?
All exemptions are applied for at the county tax assessor’s office, not the city. The county tax assessor’s office keeps an extensive list of exemptions, which impact county, city and school district property taxes.
Is there a way to estimate how my taxes will change from year to year?
You will get some indication when your assessment notice comes out in May from the county tax assessor’s office. During the year, watching what your neighbors are offering their properties for, and ultimately selling them for, might give you some idea as to how the market is changing for homes in your neighborhood.
Should I consult my accountant with questions about property tax?
Always provide your accountant with copies of your recently paid property tax bill and proof of payment. He or she will decide how that might be incorporated into your federal income taxes.
Who do I contact with questions or to dispute my taxes?
In May, taxpayers typically receive their annual assessment from the county tax assessor’s office. It will include instructions on how to appeal your value if you think it’s gone up too much or didn’t go down as you believed that it should.
City employees always are willing to assist taxpayers who have initial questions about their bill and need direction. That representative can be contacted at 770-592-6051.