Property taxes are the way that most local areas collect the tax revenue that funds the services citizens need in that area. The level of taxation, the method of assessment and the exemptions that apply vary from one area to another. This article explains how the property works in Hennepin County, Minnesota.
Property taxes provide the basic means of funding essential services such as schools, roads, transit, fire, police and mosquito prevention in Hennepin County. The taxes are raised on a county wide basis and then distributed between the school districts, cities, townships and special districts. They are an attempt to share the cost of the services which are necessary for civic life on an equitable basis.
The level of taxation that the citizen pays is based on the market value of the property they own. Tax assessors calculate the market value of the property. The individual property is then placed in a category according to its estimated value. The actual tax that the resident pays is then worked out according to the millage rate. The millage rate is a formula based on the level of the county budget. It varies from year to year and depends on the amount that is needed to cover the budget based on the value of the properties assessed.
Residents will receive a notification of the market value of their house as determined by the county tax assessor. There is an appeals process. If you think the valuation of your house is too high you can appeal. You must file your appeal with the County Tax Board.
When your appeal is heard the Hennepin County tax assessor will explain why your house was valued as it was and what the assessment was based on. It is important to be able to explain why your house has been wrongly valued and make a case for a reduction.
If you win your appeal and the market value of your house is reduced you may be entitled to a refund of taxes already paid for previous years and to reduced taxation for the coming year.
Home improvements will normally increase the market value of your house and hence increase your tax assessment. However there are exceptions. If your house is more than 45 years old it may qualify for exemption under the “This old house” rule. An old house can be improved in some cases without becoming liable to higher taxation. This provision acts as an incentive to owners to improve older houses rather than allowing them to deteriorate.
There are also what are called Homestead exemptions. These apply to the primary residence of the tax payer. They do not apply to second homes or holiday homes. There are cases in which you can apply for a homestead exemption in which a qualified resident lives. Residents who are blind or severely disabled are entitled to homestead exemptions. You should file for homestead exemptions at the county offices.
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