Utah property values are on the rise, thanks to an economy and consumer confidence that continue to grow. For home and property owners, this also means increased property taxes which are based on valuations of properties that local county assessor offices conduct each year.
County Treasurer offices send notices of new rates to property owners in late July each year, and some years property owners are surprised to see an increase in the amount that will be due in December.
However, each year many citizens pass up potential ways to reduce the amount they owe in the form of tax appeals, abatements and circuit breakers. Typically, information about these is included with the tax notice, but not always spotted for a variety of reasons.
Even when some property owners become aware of them, the options can sound intimidating or even confusing. But they are worth learning more about and (depending on individual situations) could save some citizens a lot of money.
Property Tax Appeals
All property owners who feel their valuation was incorrect can file an appeal within 45 days of receiving their assessment notice. This usually falls around the middle of September, but specific dates are given on notices.
The burden of proof is on the property owner, but there are several ways this can be done. One of the more common methods is having a real estate agent pull a comparison report of similar properties based on location and specifications of the property. Another way is hiring an appraiser to provide a report on the property’s value.
There are several other guidelines and ways to properly file an appeal. Property owners should contact their county Assessor office for details.
Once a county receives an appeal, it is given to the Board of Equalization (BOE), a local governing body of county officials, that convenes to review property tax appeals. The BOE will consider oral and written testimony regarding the valuation of the property and then make a judgment.
However, prior to most filed appeals, county officials are often available to conduct an informal review of a property owner’s assessment. This helps educate property owners about their unique case and will sometimes save them and county officials the time and paperwork of a formal appeal.
Indigent or Hardship Abatement
Indigent Abatements are property tax credits offered through the counties for property owners who are either under 65 years of age (those over 65 can apply for a Circuit Breaker tax credit described below), disabled, or are experiencing extreme hardship and whose household income does not exceed $31,208. In Salt Lake County only the income limit can increase by $4020 for each additional household member. These credits are between $112 and $924 per qualifying year and includes mobile/manufactured homes.
Visually-Impaired Abatements are property tax exemptions offered through the counties for property owners who have substantial visual impairment. Exemptions can be up to $11,500 of the assessed value of the property.
Active Armed Forces Abatement
Active Armed Services Abatements are property tax exemptions offered through the counties for property owners who served in federal active duty of at least 200 days outside the state of Utah (non-consecutive if within the same year or consecutive if occurring during overlapping years). Exemptions for this abatement are for 100 percent of the assessed value of the property.
Disabled Veteran Abatement
Disabled Veteran Abatements are property tax exemptions offered through the counties for property owners who are either a disabled veteran, or the un-married surviving spouse or surviving orphan of a veteran killed in the line of duty. Exemptions can be up to $248,203 of the assessed value of the property and is based on percentage of the disability (ranging between 10 and 100%). This abatement also includes property tax on tangible personal property – such as automobiles and recreation boats and vehicles.
Circuit Breaker Tax Credit
An additional category of property tax relief is called a Circuit Breaker. These were created to give property owners (including mobile or manufactured homes) who are seniors ages 66 and up or surviving spouses of any age a tax break based on gross household income (up to $31,208 annual gross income) and offering a credit of up to $924.
All abatements and circuit breakers have specific guidelines for qualification and application so citizens are urged to contact their local county treasurer office for more details. The statutory deadline for them is September 1, however some counties will accept them beyond the deadline. Davis County, for example, will accept applications through the end of the year.
Additionally, property owners who qualify for multiple exemptions or credits are entitled to receive up to 100 percent of their valuation.
For more information about qualifications and application, call or visit your local County Treasurer’s office. Click here to find the links to all 29 of Utah’s county government websites.