Sun, July 21

Tax rate drop no indicator taxes will fall

Don’t start spending your money before you count it. This week’s announcement that the Yavapai County Board of Supervisors has followed through on its pledge to reduce the primary county tax rate by 10-cents should not be interpreted that taxes will go down.

All the supervisors did was reduce, by 10-cents for every $100 of assessed valuation, the rate at which your property is taxed.

Often during this time of year, both the supervisors and this newspaper get lambasted when it is reported the supervisors have reduced the tax levy rate. This year’s 10-cent reduction represents a commitment made by the supervisors to help convince voters to approve the establishment of a county sales tax to fund the sheriff’s jail operations.

When property owners receive their annual tax bills and some see an increase in property taxes, some immediately claim fraud on the part of the supervisors or lousy reporting by the newspaper.

The reality is that it is not uncommon for tax rates to fall, but property taxes still increase. The County Assessor’s Office, following directives from the Arizona Department of Revenue, determines the value of your property for taxation purposes. The tax rate can fall, but if your valuation increases, you still can end up paying more property tax.

There is still another twist to the numbers maze called taxation. The best way to understand it is to take a close look at your property tax bill and compare last year’s numbers to the current year. If you do that, you’ll find that the county is only a small piece of the pie. Your property also is taxed by multiple school districts, a community college, fire and other special assessment districts and many other layers of government. Analyze the numbers. If there is one particular branch of government gouging you, it’s likely not the county, and, in fact, the impact is probably more cumulative than it is the result of any single branch of government.

The county supervisors’ reduction of the county tax rate should be appreciated for what it is, and certainly not criticized for what it isn’t.