Where do my property tax dollars go?

Property taxes must be paid annually by anyone who owns a home or a commercial property. The property taxes that you pay are used for a number of things, and most or all of the money you pay in property tax remains inside your community.

When you pay your property tax bill, the money you are spending goes to a number of important programs. Road construction and maintenance and local government staff salaries within the community are all things that are paid for with your tax dollars. Any municipal employees, such as police, fire fighters, and the local public works department are also paid through your property taxes.

Your property taxes help to pay for much of the organized recreation in your area, including park or any other recreation areas that are constructed and maintained within your community. Any of the public lands in your community that aren’t owned or funded by the state are generally paid for by the property taxes in your area as well. Traffic and street lights, sidewalks, recreational trails and public transportation are all paid for through local property tax percentages that your local government collects each year.

Your local government regulates the property taxes that you pay every year and bases your tax bill on the most recent property value assessment for your home and any land you may possess. Your local government also determines how often these assessments are performed, and what percentage of your property value is taxed. Once your tax balance has been determined, it's your obligation to pay that balance in full. Failure to pay your property taxes can result in penalties, fees, fines, and even the forced sale of your home.

While the programs paid for by your property tax dollars are important, you still do not want to pay any more property taxes than you should legally owe. As such, if you believe your property tax assessment was unfair or need more property tax information, it's in your best interest to consult with an experienced attorney for help.