TETON COUNTY, IDAHO
Trying to figure out how property tax and levies are created can be daunting, even for a real estate agent! Property tax can be defined as the primary source of revenue for the local governments that serve and protect the community, such as school districts, ambulance, fire, and so on.
First, we should understand how your property values are assessed. Basically, the assessor’s office identifies and values all the taxable property in the county. They use recent sales data, estimated construction costs, and other data to estimate the value of each property. All valuations are monitored by the state tax commission to ensure accuracy and compliance with state laws. The letters that you receive asking about sale data after you purchase a property are used to help value your property. Note*** Idaho is a nondisclosure state, and you are not required to submit this document. Weigh the pros and cons of giving this information to the County.
Next, we need to understand how the levy (imposed tax) is calculated. This job is handled by the County Clerk. The simplest answer is the rate is calculated by dividing the amount of property tax needed by the total taxable value of all the properties. The long answer is not quite that simple, but it uses the same method. This method is used by 14 districts within the county that create their own budget, and calculate a tax rate for that specific district. District 1, the City of Driggs has a slightly different tax rate and budget than District 2, in the City of Victor. So, each district divides their budget by the taxable value of the properties within that district to come up with the tax rate for that district.
Now that we have the tax rate for your district, and your assessed value, all each district has to do is multiply the value of your property by the tax rate to come up with your property tax amount. So, this is the final step before you receive your bill. It’s important to understand that each budget is created at the end of the year, and therefore your taxes are assessed for the prior year. The taxes are paid in two halves for each year. The first half of each year becomes due December 20th and the second half of that year is due the following year on June 20th. State law limits budget increases as a whole (not on an individual basis) to 3%.
Understanding that this is a very brief description of how the system works, coming from someone who does not work for the County with only a limited understanding, there are a few other points to be made here. One question you might ask yourself is, how can I reduce the amount I pay in property taxes? There are a few things to keep your eye on. First, if the property is your primary residence, make sure that you have applied for the homeowners exemption. This must be filed with the assessor’s office by April 15th. Second, always review your annual assessment notice, and call the assessor’s office if things seem out of line. Idaho Code states that any claim for tax reduction shall be filed with the assessor’s office between January 1st and April 15th of each year.