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Payment of Property Taxes

Owning a home and property taxes. The two concepts go hand in hand. As long as there has been property ownership, there has been a governmental entity charging property taxes. Property taxes vary widely from jurisdiction to jurisdiction -- expect to pay more in New York City than Oklahoma City, and for most oceanfront property than inland settings. Home buyers should carefully consider property taxes as an additional, ongoing expense of home ownership.

Property Tax Deadlines

What about the payment of property taxes? Again, the due date for property tax depends on location. The deadlines vary considerably. Some property taxes are paid annually, and some are paid in two, three, or four installments. Some jurisdictions allow for monthly tax payments. The collection office nearest the property owner will have more information on payment options. A few of these are:

  • Credit card payments
  • Discounts for early payment
  • Escrow agreements
  • Extensions
  • Partial payments
  • Split payments

In some areas, homeowners pay their property tax through escrow accounts. The tax bill is incorporated with the mortgage payment. Thus, the mortgage-holder pays the tax bill out of these combined funds.

Assessment of Property Taxes

As for how property taxes are assessed - that is the purvey of each jurisdiction's tax assessor. Assessors "value" property for tax appraisal purposes. "Value" can be known as: actual, appraisal and market value, among others.

Most states focus on "market value." Market value is the amount of money a typical, knowledgeable buyer would pay for a given parcel of property. To calculate the market value of a piece of property, an assessor determines if there have been changes in the real estate market where the property is situated.

Taxing Authorities

The responsibility for property tax collection rests almost exclusively with the taxing authorities within local governments. A taxing authority like a county, city, town, hospital, refuse collection, school, or other special district, is a legal entity of the government with elected or appointed officers who serve a distinct geographic area.

Both state and local government agencies are authorized to levy taxes, but the way they conduct assessments, collection, and compliance can differ widely. In some states, a single state agency has primary responsibility for obtaining all appraisals, making assessments, and collecting taxes.

For more information on taxes, generally visit FindLaw's Tax Center.

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