See how your property tax bill is computed

Let’s take a look at how a tax bill comes together. It’s an interesting and empowering exercise to tie your local government budgets – and the property taxes needed to fund them – to your personal property tax.

Every year, the state publishes town-by-town property tax data here that includes a wealth of information including tax base value, property taxes used to fund local budgets, and the average assessed home value in each town. The data released each January is reflective of the prior calendar year; such that data published in January 2022 shows 2021 calendar year data. That 2021 data is what I’m showing below. I’m also giving users of this visualization reader the ability to input a personalized assessed value to personalize the calculation.

How do use this visualization: (1) Pick your county and town then (2) Input a value into the “assessed value” box and the “Estimated Tax Expense” will update to show your estimated tax based on 2021 public data for your town.

A quick disclosure: this is intended for general teaching purposes only. Plugging in your home’s assessed value is meant to personalize the teaching; it is not intended as any kind of tax or accounting advice. In fact, I would caution against using this visualization to come to any conclusion about any personal facts or circumstances; instead, source personal facts and circumstances back to public data on government websites (which you can find links to in the visual). 

Some wonky nuance for those interested:

  1. School budgets are fiscal year (July 1 through June 30) so the school levy straddles (is averaged between) two fiscal years (i.e. Calendar Year 2021 includes part of FY 2020 and part of FY 2021)
  2. Some of this data is also available in your town’s “User Friendly Budget” though I have found immaterial discrepancies which may be based on data that is finalized after a budget is passed (vs what finally gets rolled up and included in the state level reports that the visual above is pulling from).
  3. The best place to see this ‘view’ in a public document is your town’s User Friendly Budget, which must, by law, be published on your town website. The “UFB-1  Property Tax Breakdown” tab has the best summary of this data but, a caveat: the UFB-1 tab looks back one year, so be careful to mind the date headings.
  4. And finally, a word of caution against using this visualization as a comparison between towns. This visual shows the assessed value of each town’s tax base, thus this view shows an “apples to orange” view of the towns and their respective general tax rates. An “apples to apples” comparison would require the equalized value of the tax base be used.
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