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What Do My Property Taxes Fund?

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Nobody likes to pay taxes, and it seems we pay so many different kinds of taxes for so many different things. One of our largest tax bills each year is often for property taxes, those pesky once a year taxes we pay on our homes and land. Have you ever wondered just what your property taxes fund? Well, it does vary by location, but in general your taxes are used to fund your local county budget. In fact in most cases, about 80% of a county’s budget is funded by property taxes. This budget typically pays for:

• Police and Fire Support – Your county budget pays for county sheriff services and fire departments, providing necessary community help and protection.

• Roads – In most cases, many of the roads located in a county are maintained by that county. Interstates are typically maintained through the state’s budget, but those local roads are maintained locally.

• Education – Much of the budget that your local schools operate from comes from the county government, which is funded by property taxes. Teachers’ salaries, building maintenance, bus maintenance and many special programs are paid for by your property taxes. However, there are typically some school budget items and programs that are funded at the state level.

• Local Government – Your local county government is, of course, run on the local budget. This means that everything from the salaries of your county commissioners to the electric bill for the county offices is paid from this local budget funded by your property taxes.

So, as you can see, while property taxes are no fun to pay, they serve a useful purpose. We all use the services funded by our property taxes on a daily basis, so the funds to provide these local budgets are required to keep our communities going.

Your property taxes are based on the tax assessors determination of the value of your home. It’s important to keep a watch on your tax bill and the value of your home as calculated by the tax assessor. While it is important for each of us to do our part to fund our local government, we shouldn’t have to pay more than our fair share. The tax assessor’s determination on the value of your home is somewhat subjective, so if you feel that your property has been over valued, it’s important to speak up and appeal the assessment.

It’s also important to get involved at the local level so that you understand the items in your county’s budget. If your property taxes are funding this budget, then you have a say in the budget items. You can’t speak up about unnecessary waste of taxpayers’ money if you don’t know how the money is being spent.


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