Derek Morgan
Derek Morgan
The Winstanley House
Derek Morgan
Derek Morgan

    What are real estate taxes?

    Property taxes can be a complex topic, but understanding the distinction between real estate and personal property taxes is a crucial step in ensuring proper payment and maximizing deductions on your federal taxes. By staying informed about the requirements, rates, and laws in your state and municipality, as well as seeking help from professionals when needed, you can confidently navigate the world of property taxes. Don't let property taxes be a source of stress - with the right knowledge and resources, you can confidently handle this important aspect of homeownership or rental property management. We’re not offering tax advice, so consult with a qualified tax expert to make personalized decisions.

    Understanding Property Taxes

    When you become a property owner or a landlord, you learn about that wonderful term "real estate taxes". Let's consider for a moment  but do you really know what they are and how they differ from other types of taxes like personal property taxes? Understanding the differences between these two types of taxes is crucial to properly paying and potentially even maximizing deductions on your federal taxes.


    Real Estate Taxes

    Real estate taxes, also known as property taxes or real property taxes, refer to the taxation of real property such as a home or rental property as well as the land they are on. These taxes are usually paid to local County Assessor offices and the funds generated from them are commonly used to help pay for local and state services: schools, roads, and other items essential to public safety.

    Real estate taxes are calculated based on the assessed value of the property in question. This value is determined by multiplying the fair market value of the property by the predetermined percentage in that municipality, also known as the property tax rate. The resulting number is the tax assessment value, which is then used to calculate the amount of real estate taxes due. The property tax rate can vary significantly depending on various factors, like exemptions providing special deductions and local projects making temporary increases, as well as the location of the property, with rates being generally higher in larger cities like New York or Los Angeles compared to smaller municipalities.

    Real estate taxes are deductible on your federal taxes, but the amount you can deduct depends on the tax rate in your area and your income level. It's important to note that real estate tax laws and rates can vary significantly by state and municipality. Take ownership of how the government comes up with your assessed taxes by doing some research on other property comparable to verify the correct taxable value for your property, double check your listed exemptions to be sure you are getting all your deductions and if needed, seek the help of a tax professional to make sure you're paying the correct amount.

    Personal Property Taxes

    Personal property taxes, on the other hand, refer to the taxation of items that are mobile rather than fixed, such as cars, campers, boats, and business machinery, equipment, or furniture. Like real estate taxes, personal property taxes are paid to state and local governments and the funds generated from them are used to help pay for local and state services.

    Personal property taxes are calculated based on the assessed value. The assessed value is determined by the municipality and can vary based on the type and age of the item. Personal property tax rates also vary by location and can be higher or lower than real estate tax rates, depending on the municipality.

    It's important to note that intangible personal property, such as stocks or intellectual property, is not generally subject to personal property tax. In addition, certain business items may be subject to personal property tax, but their equivalent items used for personal use may not be. For example, a business-owned car may be subject to personal property tax, but a personally-owned car would not be.

    Like real estate taxes, personal property taxes are deductible on your federal taxes, but the amount you can deduct depends on the tax rate in your area and your income level. Because personal property tax laws and rates vary from state-to-state and per municipality, do your research and seek the help of a tax professional to make sure you're paying the correct amount and maximizing your deductions.

    Mobile Homes and Businesses

    In addition to considering the distinction between real estate and personal property taxes, it's important to note that certain items may be treated differently depending on their use. For example, mobile homes can be considered either real estate or personal property, depending on whether the owner owns the land it is situated on. If the owner owns the land, the mobile home is typically considered real estate and subject to real estate taxes. If the owner does not own the land, the mobile home is typically considered personal property and subject to personal property taxes. Since every state is different, reach through and check what your local regulations are.

    Similarly, certain business items may be subject to personal property tax but not their equivalent in terms of private use. For example, a company car may be subject to personal property tax, but a personal car used for business purposes may not be. It's important to understand the specific tax implications of business-related items in order to accurately file your taxes and ensure you are paying the appropriate amount.


    Navigating Property Taxes

    With the various distinctions between real estate and personal property taxes, as well as the potential for variations by state and municipality, it can be confusing to navigate the property tax landscape. One helpful resource is to check out state-specific posts that cover the requirements, rates, and laws for property taxes in your area. These posts can provide valuable information on everything from how to calculate your property taxes to how to file for exemptions or deductions.

    Additionally, individuals can connect with a tax pro at a nearby H&R Block office for personalized help with understanding and navigating property taxes. These professionals have extensive knowledge of tax laws and can provide tailored guidance based on your specific situation.

    Conclusion

    In summary, property taxes can be a complex topic, but understanding the distinction between real estate and personal property taxes is a crucial step in ensuring proper payment and maximizing deductions on your federal taxes. By staying informed about the requirements, rates, and laws in your state and municipality, as well as seeking help from professionals when needed, you can confidently navigate the world of property taxes. Don't let property taxes be a source of stress - with the right knowledge and resources, you can confidently handle this important aspect of homeownership or rental property management. We’re not offering tax advice, so consult with a qualified tax expert to make personalized decisions.

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