Property tax in the United States can be divided into two categories: real and personal. Real property is what you pay on the real estate you own (the building or improvement value and site value). Personal property varies depending on where you live, but often includes belongings like stocks and bonds, appliances, tools, furniture, machinery, cars, boats and planes, among other vehicles. In some parts of the country, personal property applies only to mobile, business-related property.
The level of local government assessing and collecting these taxes varies depending on your locality as well. Personal property is commonly claimed by your state. Real property is assessed and claimed by a local municipality like the district, city or county. Here's how to pay property taxes.
To pay your property tax:
- Calculating. The first bit of tax information you should be aware of is how to calculate the tax which is usually determined by property tax rates. Real property tax is often calculated by multiplying a rate like 0.6% by the assessed total value of your real estate. If your home is valued at $200,000 and the tax rate is 0.6%, then your property tax would equal (200000 x 0.006), or $1200. Sometimes, though, a municipality will impose a flat tax rate on every unit of particular dollar value in the total value of your real property. For example, let's say the rate was $15 for every $2000 in the value of your real property, which was assessed at $200,000. In this case, since there are 100 of those $2000 units in the total value of your house, your real property tax would be (15 x 100), or $1500.
All personal property relevant to the property tax laws of your municipality must be declared so as to be taxed. Municipalities apply the same tax rate to personal property as to real property.
- Frequency of payment. Some municipalities require two payments per year, while others collect the entire thing in one yearly sum. Due dates for payment vary as well. If you are unsure about the time line in your municipality, contact your state's office of revenue or taxation. Simply searching online with your state and the keyword "property tax" will point you in the direction of the answers you seek (for example, "New Jersey property tax").
- Paying. County treasurer offices and your state's Department of Treasury can generally offer help to assist you in learning what options are allowed in your area. Visit their websites online or find their phone number in the phone book to speak with someone and get your questions answered. The following are possible ways for you to pay your property tax.
Property tax requirements and payment options vary significantly from municipality to municipality; this article can serve as a general guide, but cannot substitute for local information. Contact county and state treasury offices in order to pay your property tax with total confidence.