Property tax initiatives

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In the United States, property tax on real estate is usually assessed by local government, at the municipal or county level. A very important benefit of a tax on property over a tax on income is that the revenue always equals the tax levy, unlike income or sales taxes, which can result in shortfalls producing deficits. The property tax always produces the required revenue for municipalities' tax levies. On the other hand property taxes can have a negative impact on individuals with fixed incomes such as the elderly and those who have lost their jobs. Gentrification in low income areas of a city can drive property taxes to the point where long time residents of an area are forced to leave.

The assessment is usually made up of two components — the improvement or building value and the land or site value. In some states, personal property is also taxed. A tax assessor is a public official who determines the value of real property for the purpose of apportioning the tax levy. An appraiser may work for government or private industry and may determine the value of real property for any purpose.

Tax assessor offices maintain inventory information about improvements to real estate. They also create and maintain tax maps. This is accomplished with the help of surveyors. On tax maps, individual properties are shown and given unique parcel identifiers. The tax maps help to ensure that no properties are omitted from the tax rolls and that no properties are taxed more than once. Real property taxes are usually collected by an official other than the assessor. Duplicate examples of a proposed alternate to ad valorum assessments is provided at the following sites as sponsored by the Henry George Foundation. Maryland, King County, Washington, Indiana, New Jersey, New York. In fact many localities have gone online.

The assessment of an individual piece of real estate may be according to one or more of the normally accepted methods of valuation (i.e. income approach, market value or replacement cost). Assessments may be given at 100 percent of value or at some lesser percentage. In most if not all assessment jurisdictions, the determination of value made by the assessor is subject to some sort of administrative or judicial review, if the appeal is instituted by the property owner.

Ad valorem (of value) property taxes are based on fair market property values of individual estates. A local tax assessor then applies an established assessment rate to the fair market value. By multiplying the tax rate x against the assessed value of the property, a tax due is calculated. These taxes are collected by municipalities such as cities, counties, and districts in many locations in the United States. They fund municipal budgets for school systems, sewers, parks, libraries, fire stations, hospitals, etc.

After determining a budget at the municipal level, a legislative appropriation determines how the monies will be collected and distributed. After that, a tax authority levies the tax. An appeal is permitted. Equalization is then considered by a board of equalizers to assure fair treatment. Then a tax rate is determined by dividing the municipal budget by the assessment role of that municipality. Multiplying tax rate by the assessed value of one's property determines one's tax rate.

Some jurisdictions have both Ad valorem and non-Ad valorem property taxes (better known as special assessments). The latter come in the form of a fixed charge (regardless of the value of the underlying property) for items such as street lighting and storm sewer control.

In the United States, another form of property tax is the personal property tax, which can target

  • automobiles, boats, aircraft and other vehicles;
  • other valuable durable goods such as works of art (most household goods and personal effects are usually exempt);
  • business inventory;
  • intangible assets such as stocks and bonds.

In some states, it is permissible to separate the real estate tax, into two separate taxes—one the land value and one on the building value.

To see all measures related to property taxes visit Local property tax on the ballot.

Parcel taxes

See also: Parcel tax elections in California

Parcel tax is the common term in California for a "qualified special tax" imposed by a local unit of government. Special taxes are permitted by the California Constitution, requiring approval at an election of at least 2/3rds of those voting on the measure.

Parcel taxes can be used for any type of spending--construction costs, employee salaries, and other projects or spending needs.

Elections to vote on parcel tax measures must take place on what are known as "established election dates." In even-numbered years, these are in March, April and November. In odd-numbered years, these are in March, June and November. However, if the election will be held by mail only, the election dates can also be set in May or August (odd or even years) and June (even-numbered years).

Notice that a parcel tax election will occur must be given at least 90 days in advance of the date of the election.

Parcel tax elections are held when a taxing district in California wants to raise revenues through imposing an additional tax called a parcel tax. The taxes are a form of property tax, which must be paid by the owners of parcels of real estate. However, unlike standard property taxes, which are based on the value of the property, a parcel tax is an assessment based on the characteristics of the parcel. School districts have created assessments that range from flat amounts per parcel to assessments based on parcel lot square footage or building square foot. Some school districts have assessed residential parcels using one method and non-residential using another method.

If voters approve them, parcel taxes can be imposed on public school districts, and on other local units of government. There are 1,042 public school districts in California[1] and between 1983-2009, about 245 of them have adopted a parcel tax.[2]

According to researchers William Duncombe and John Yinger in a 2007 study, California is the only state that allows parcel taxes as a method of funding schools.[3]

1983 was the first year that school districts put parcel tax questions on the ballot. Seven school districts referred parcel tax measures to the ballot that year. Three of those measures were approved.[4]

2008 Initiatives related to property taxes


Parts of this article were taken from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia