Property Taxes

A few weeks ago I shared the median price of homes for sale in our surrounding states. What I didn’t mention was the huge range in property tax assessments in this country. The average jump in taxes on your home, condo, duplex, etc. was 3% in 2022 over the previous year averaging $3,901 annually in the U.S.

Where do property taxes go? There are several types of taxes collected in our state: income tax, sales tax, property tax, excise taxes on tobacco sales and alcohol, gas (auto) tax and taxes on oil, gas and mining. They are collected by the county where you live and mainly go to support public and higher education and to support individuals with a disability. What is NOT taxed are properties owned by the Feds, the State, and churches. Also, you don’t get taxed on what’s inside your home (furniture), your business inventory and farm machinery and equipment. What I’m talking about here is property tax which is based on an assessed value of all tangible property someone owns, including land and structures. Each county in the state may have a different tax rate that is passed on to property owners.

Any ‘taxing entity’ who wants to increase property taxes over the previous year must by law give specific public notice and hold public hearings before increasing taxes. The County Assessor where you live appraises residential and commercial properties and Utah’s average effective property tax rate is .52%, which is one of the lowest in the country. Basically, the tax law states that you get a 45% property tax exemption on most homes in Utah, meaning you only pay property taxes on 55% of your home’s fair market value as determined by the Assessor and its computer programs. That exemption was raised to 45% in 1995 and has stayed the same for decades. If you are building a home you can qualify for a primary residential exemption before it’s completed if you apply to the County Assessor. Some folks who like to avoid taxes for nefarious reasons file that they are building a home, and never ever complete it but may still be living in it.

Also, to avoid capital gains when selling a personal residence, know that you have to live in the property for two out of the past five years. If you’re single, you can deduct a $250,000 gain (profit) before you must claim capital gains and $500,000 if you’re married. Married couples living apart can’t claim two exemptions unless they are legally separated.

New Yorkers pay the highest property taxes (@$9000 per year), followed by San Jose and San Francisco. Alabamans pay the least-a median of $995 annual followed by New Orleans and Memphis, Tenn. Most homeowners opt to have property taxes paid with their monthly mortgage and are due in full by Nov. 30th each year and cannot be paid during the month of December.

No Mansion Tax

The ‘mission’ (no pun intended) of a tax collector it to provide the public with fair market value of real and personal property and to comply with local laws per that county and our state have enacted to set up a taxing system.  We can be taxed on our real estate holdings, mobile homes, air craft, motor vehicles and property used in the operation of a business. In Utah, property tax notices go out mid to late summer for you to review and accept/pay or protest.  School districts in the state take up almost 60% of tax revenues collected in the state. Your County Assessor’s computers determine a property’s value and if it’s residential the owner will automatically get a 45% deduction from their home value to determine the taxable rate, which means you pay taxes on 55% of your home’s value.  We are blessed with a relatively low tax rate here. BUT be glad you don’t live in say, Los Angeles where as of last April high end homes are now subject to a ‘mansion tax’ that levies a fee on transfers of real property that sell for over $5 million. Revenue from the tax will fund affordable housing and services to combat homelessness in the city.

We don’t have transfer taxes in Utah. The story I was told when I got my real estate license years ago that we as REALTORS made a deal with the Tax Assessors to give them sales data each year so that the Assessor could calculate property taxes in exchange for not levying transfer taxes on the sale of land, homes, condo, commercial buildings and multiplexes. This tax has nothing to do with capital gains taxes on profits that the IRS charges.  Our legislature has not considered charging any transfer tax in some time and well, there’s an argument for and against them on both sides of politics to either keep taxes low or tax more and give the funds to worthy causes like funding homelessness programs.

As you can imagine many California millionaires are challenging this transfer tax in the courts and there are huge arguments if this kind of tax will have any effect on the local economy. Some say it will have zero impact and others say that L.A. is going to lose millions of dollars in revenues. Wealthy homeowners and buyers are just like anyone else-they want to pay the least amount of taxes and save as much money as possible when selling a property. Some sellers who thought of asking $5,025,000 might list their home instead for $5 mil just to avoid the taxes which will unfairly effect comparable sales. Some think that this kind of tax will discourage flippers and speculators. We shall see.

MORE INFO ABOUT YOUR PROPERTY TAX: or call 385-468-8000 or call your local assessor 4info!


SNOWBIRD: noun. 1) any of several birds seen chiefly in winter 2) a ski resort in Utah 3) one who travels to warm climes for winter.  Right now, spring fever is RAMPANT here in our state even though Spring Break at our state universities and colleges was last week. Some will have joined the crowds of hikers, bikers and ATV’s in southern Utah while others avoid that chaos and will travel in the next month to enjoy their favorite warm vaycay spots and/or our ‘Big 5’ National Parks.

More established folk look to St. George and Washington County as a place to retire or to have a second home to get out of the cold and snow in other areas of the country. With the amount of Winter that Mother Nature dropped on so many areas this season flights, hotels and B and B’s are in high demand. One of my twin daughters lives in Lake Arrowhead, CA and got 11 feet of snow in 5 days, and another 5 feet the following week. She and her husband are chomping at the bit to find the warmth, and places like St. George have them eyeballing prices.

It’s not surprising then to learn that Washington County was awarded the nation’s top luxury second-home market in the country this past year as gathered from data by Pacaso-a luxury home real estate website that hooks up dreamers who want to make owning a luxury second home a reality. The firm analyzed lock-in rates for second mortgages with lenders by buyers in Utah, California, Florida and Nevada. Their definition of a luxury home is any residence listed at over $1 million or more that is specifically designated as a second residence. The MLS in Washington County currently lists 1504 homes and condos for sale in all price ranges, with 208 of them (14%) asking $1 mil+.  The MLS for Salt Lake County has 230 properties (16%) listed at over $1 million with a total of 1452 active listings in all price-ranges.

The most expensive home listed in Salt Lake County right now is a 15,540 sq. ft. seven bedroom home at 2304 S. Oneida Street for $11.9mil. There are two homes in Washington County listed at $10mil, almost two dozen asking over $1mil in Summit and Wasatch Counties with the highest price property I can find in Utah going for $50,000,000 in White Pine Canyon. That one sold last year for $36mil-17,567 sq. ft, 6 BR/10BA, 15 fireplaces, 6 car garage, 60’ indoor/outdoor stainless steel pool, motorized interior walls, spa with a Himalayan salt room, hammam, bowling alley and cinema laser projection system. Hey, if you have the bucks I’d be more than happy to sell you any of these whether it’s your primary residence or second home!