Sunday, September 30, 2012

Maricopa County Homeowners: Your Tax Bill Should Be Lower

As some of you know already, your property-tax bills are in the mail, and for most, you should owe less than last year. Please keep in mind this does not apply to everyone, and there are exceptions.

The typical homeowner should expect the the bill to drop by about $18, according to the Maricopa County Treasurer's Office says. Why? Well, last year, when home values were even lower, the average homeowner saw a bigger decrease, about $60 or so.

This year's tax bills are based on 2010 valuations, when Valley home prices dropped a median of 11 percent. But the drop in a house's value does not translate to the same drop in a homeowner's taxes. Right?

Next year's property taxes will be based on 2011 valuations, which were mailed to homeowners in February and showed overall values fell an average of 7.6 percent. That was the fifth consecutive drop in Maricopa County home valuations.

And the values of your home likely has been increasing in the last 12 months. So, the next assessed valuations will be mailed out early next year, and most people should finally see increases in their home's values. In Maricopa County, property values climbed more than 33% overall since last year.

You see, your property taxes are calculated with a formula based on two factors: property valuations set by the county assessor, and tax rates set by nearly 1,500 municipalities, school districts and other taxation districts, each of which sets its own rate and takes a percentage of the taxes each year.

Maricopa County kept its property-tax rate flat this year, meaning the county-controlled portion of the bill for an average homeowner would decrease about $20. But county government controls only about 12 percent of the total bill. The largest chunk goes to school districts, at 56 percent. And one would expect that this will be subject to an increase.