The “User Friendly Budget,” part 6: What drives my property tax bill? (UFB, Page 1)

This is an update to my “User Friendly Budget” series with a focus on Montclair.  Your town’s user friendly budget must be posted on your town’s website (per state law here).

The first page of the user friendly budget (“UFB-1”) provides a view of the “average” tax bill in your town. The “average” tax bill is based on whatever the “average” assessed value of the home in your town is. And, “assessed” value is not necessarily “market” value; rather, “assessed” is the value of your home per the tax records. (So, if it’s been a while since your town last revalued, the “assessed” values may be outdated as compared to market value).

What’s so helpful about this page in the User Friendly Budget is that it compiles data that you can’t easily find in any other public budget. It arguably is the most “user friendly” view into how your tax bill is built up, from:

  • the total property tax needed to fund the annual budget
  • the tax base value
  • the tax rate (which is a function of the property tax and the tax base)
  • the average tax impact — using the averaged assessed value of the home in your town times the tax rates.
  • If you want to see YOUR tax impact, you can swap out the “average” assessed value (in the case of Montclair, that’s $629,000) with YOUR assessed value.

Below is a Tableau of this data, showing how the math builds up. Montclair is the default choice but you can filter into any county or town in NJ. And, a note: the data behind this tab is from an Excel file located here, but it aligns closely with what you’ll find in the User Friendly Budget for the noted year.

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