Property Tax 101 (Bend Over)

Here is an easy way to figure your approximate property taxes after getting that “assessment notice” in the mail.

–The notice is the value of your property which gets taxed (minus the homestead exemption). It is the basis for all taxes. If you think it is too high you can call the assessor for an explanation. Sweet talk ‘em and you may get it reduced. Talk tough and you will have to make a formal protest. If it is too low, keep your mouth shut!

–To figure your tax bite, multiply the value by about 2% if you live in the city and about 1.5% if you live in the county. The bite for city residents includes, city, county, schools, irrigation etc. There are dozens upon dozens of taxing districts in Ada County alone (fire, school, drain, mosquito, cemetery, library). If you live within multiple districts, you get a multiple levy.

–”Levy” is set by the city, county etc. AFTER they do their budget work. They are allowed to increase spending by only 3% per year plus the value of new property. That means the officials have to decide how much it will cost to run their government and then “levy” at a rate which will provide enough cash without exceeding 3% of the previous year’s budget. Tough to do with rampant growth.

–”Tax Rate” is that percentage figure expressed with lots of dots and zeros. The politicos love to say the rate has not increased, but truth is when you take 2% of $100,000 you get $2,000. Take 2% of $110,000 and you get $2,200. The property value increases, the taxes increase, but the RATE remains the same. Sneaky, those tax people.

The GUARDIAN thinks the elected officials depend too much on “staff” for their budget requests as well as how much cash is in the system. Just look at the mess Boise has going on. They are figuring on a “shortfall” this year and in past years staffers showed plenty of cash for yearly payments stretching on for 30 years.

Don’t forget the new buildings downtown generate NO REVENUE for Boise. The widows and poor souls on fixed incomes have to pay for the police, fire, and other city services consumed by those big buildings. The urban renewal agency gets all the taxes on downtown improvements so they can create a bigger district and build more buildings which don’t pay taxes. Somehow that is “good for the economy.”

Try to get to a budget hearing and give them your two cents worth, because they will take a lot more than that if you don’t. There is a big statewide revolt brewing, but if history is any indicator, the legislature will give citizens the usual brush off with the same finger they used for term limits and the 1% tax limit which voters approved.

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