By Colby Dunn | Infographic by Katie Davis
After much discussion, fluctuation and rolling back and forth, milage rates have settled into their final 2009 positions across the county. Some went down, some stayed in the same old place, and a few increased. But amid the sea of terms like ‘mils, ‘rollback rates’ and ‘exemptions’ it doesn’t always seem clear how that mil will translate into your bill.
There are a variety of factors that influence your property tax bill, and the one to start with is always home value. There is no magic formula for arriving at the final value that comes in the mail every year; no two homes are exactly the same, and their values change at equally unique rates every year. But whatever the value of a property, this is what begins the determination of property tax.
Across the county, property values rose by 2.75 percent over 2008 figures, so in 2009, an average property worth $100,000 would now be worth $102,750. Only 40 percent of any property’s value is taxable, so this average property would then be taxable only for $41,100 of its value. If this average home is also the primary residence for the family that lives there, they also qualify for a Homestead Exemption, a $2,000 savings. This average home is now worth $39,1000 in taxable value.
This is where the all-important milage rates make their appearance. One mil is just $1 taken for every $1,000 of taxable value. If the milage rate stood at one, this average home would owe $39.10 in ad valorem tax.
In Morgan County, all citizens are subject to three separate milage rates - state, which is .25 for 2009, the Morgan County Board of Education at 12.461 this year, and finally the county, whose rate is 8.350 mils - for a total of 21.061 mils. This is the final milage rate for residents who don’t live in one of the county’s four municipalities. For our average, primary-residence home in the county, property tax would be $823.49 for 2009 - $21.061 for every $1,000 taxable dollars.
Home and business owners living in Madison, Bostwick, Rutledge or Buckhead will be subject to extra costs from their city’s milage rate, which is anywhere from .97 in Bostwick to 3.734 in Rutledge. Madisonians with homes or businesses in the downtown or interstate corridor districts will also tack on an extra .881 or .79 charge, respectively, in addition to the 3.577 Madison rate.
However, senior homeowners in Madison can get a break by taking advantage of the extra homestead exemption there. Residents who were over 65 by January 1, 2009 can knock off an extra $10,000 from their taxable value if the home is their primary residence. This means that our average home would only have $29,100 taxable value if it’s owners were senior Madison residents.
2009 ad valorem taxes are due payable to the tax commissioner and are due by December 20, 2009. After that, you’ll be liable for late fees and interest charged on your tax. Taxes can now be paid online, as well, by visiting morgan.paytaxes.net.
If you think your tax rate is unfair, you can appeal your property valuation with the Board of Tax Assessors, but you only have 45 days from receiving your valuation to get your appeal in.
Printed in the July 30, 2009 edition.