Districts here, districts, there, districts everywhere

Did you know that in Greenville County there exists 28 special purpose governmental districts just for fire service?  Those 28 districts operate 80 fire stations, and only three of those fire stations are shared.  In fact, the districts operate three different training facilities.  And 22 of the districts have elected boards.  The remaining six are appointed by the county legislative delegation.

All of the fire districts rely heavily on property tax milage for funding, which prompted Greenville County Council to form a task force to review and develop a new method for adjusting the districts’ millages.  The resulting plan, which goes next to several committees of County Council, calls for a millage increases for fire districts to be subject to a referendum.  The proposal also requires that all fire districts produce audited financial statements before requesting millage increases.

Your Home Builders Association of Greenville has taken the position that there are too many special purpose districts in the county and that they are an anachronism of a time when the county legislative delegation governed the county, which ended more than 30 years.  The association’s position is that the various special purpose districts should be consolidated by common purpose, like fire or sewer.

NAHB: Property Taxes Remain Constant While Housing Values Decline

Despite claims from local governments to the contrary, an NAHB study has found that even while housing prices have fallen, and continue to fall in some areas, property tax revenue to governments has remained constant.  As a result, property taxes have become an increasing burden on homeowners who have hung onto their homes over the last several years.

Read the entire report at Eye on Housing by clicking here.

If you bought real estate in 2011, you could be eligible for a property tax reduction

Did you buy property in 2011 that is assessed at the 6 percent assessment ratio?  You may be eligible for a property tax discount.

The General Assembly enacted the Point of Sale Bill (H.3713) that among other things provides for a 25 percent reduction in the fair market value of property bought in 2011 and assessed at the 6 percent assessment ratio (commercial, rental, second homes).

In order to receive the reduction, the property owner must apply to the local tax assessor’s office by January 30, 2012.

NAHB study reports on effective property tax rates across the country

NAHB study reports on effective property tax rates across the country

South Carolina, and the Upstate, measure up well

The research should be useful for prospective homebuyers and businesses in the housing industry interested in comparing effective property tax payments across narrowly defined geographic areas.
According to the report, the national average property tax rate is $10.35 per $1,000 of property value. The South Carolina average is $5.01. The average for the Greenville MSA is $5.40. The Greenville MSA ranks 340 out of 387 cities measured. South Carolina ranks 46 out of the 50 states. The states with the highest property taxes include Texas, Nebraska, Illinois, and Wisconsin. The states with the lowest property taxes include Louisiana, Alabama, and West Virginia.
An “effective property tax rate” is simply the amount of property tax paid divided by the value of the home, thus giving an apples-to-apples comparison of true tax burden for homes in various locations. The alternative to an effective rate measurement is to compare statutory tax rates, which can be misleading given differences in assessment rules, tax credits, and other complicating factors.
The report presents tables of effective property tax rates for more than 3,100 countiesm, mapped above, and also discusses factors that help explain differences in those rates. It finds that effective property tax rates often appear to be related to household income, the value of homes in the area, and how recently those homes have been sold.
The data reveal wide differences across counties, with median real estate taxes ranging from around $110 per home in several Louisiana parishes to more than $8,000 per home in Hunterdon County, N.J., and in Nassau and Westchester Counties in New York. Similarly, real estate tax rates display a wide range of values, from less than a dollar per $1,000 of value in two Alaska Census areas to around $30 per $1,000 of value in several New York counties.
Drilling the data down to the smaller geographic confines of Census “tracts” — small subdivisions of a county with populations between 2,500 and 8,000 — the data show that even within counties, effective property tax rates can vary significantly. As expected, a large portion of inter-tract differences can be explained by their regional location, with tracts located in the Midwest, Northeast and Texas paying considerably higher property tax rates per $1,000 of value, compared to tracts in the South and West regions.
As the report notes, this is a reflection of a well-known and long-established tradition in which southern states tend to rely less on real estate taxes as a source of government revenue.
As we have noted before, despite dramatic declines in housing values, homeowners continue to pay about the same nominal level of property tax payments, thus leading to higher effective tax rates. This is due to lags in accruate assessments by taxing jurisdiction, but also out of necesssity due to declining sources of state and local tax revenue during the recession.

Governor Haley Signs Point of Sale Bill

One of the last bills to pass the General Assembly this year was the “point of sale” bill (H. 3713). Last month Governor Haley signed the bill into law.

The point of sale legislation is applicable only to non-primary residential properties, which are assessed at a six percent (6 percent) property tax rate. This includes commercial properties, investment properties and second homes. It does not include manufacturing properties assessed at 10.5 percent. It was drafted similar to proposed legislation that was rejected last year.

Under the new law, commercial properties will receive a 25 percent exemption (discount) from the sales value (point of sale) for taxation purposes. The bill also provides for a minimum level of valuation established as the Fair Market Value by the county tax assessor, but does allow for lower valuations if the property sells below assessed value. After the initial setting of the value by the assessor at the point of sale, all properties will continue to be subject to each county’s reassessment program and will be subject to the 15 percent cap on tax increases for each five (5) year reassessment period going forward.