This post is written by Jimmie Covington, veteran Memphis reporter with lengthy experience covering governmental, school, and demographic issues. He is a contributing writer with The Best Times, a monthly news magazine for active people 50 years and older, where this appeared in the August issue.
By Jimmie Covington
Trying to make it as simple as possible now that the Memphis and Shelby County property tax rates are set.
Memphis homeowners will pay increased city taxes if their reappraisal values went up more than 3.94 percent. They will pay increased county taxes if their reappraisals went up more than 6.3 percent. They will pay lower taxes if their values went down or their increases are lower than the above percentages.
Homeowners whose increases are exactly at these percentages will pay the same taxes as last year.
Memphis residents pay both city and county property taxes. Property owners in unincorporated areas pay only county taxes. This story will not attempt to cover the suburban towns’ tax rates.
Also, the above percentages do not apply to commercial and industrial property which is assessed at a different percentage than residential property.
The adopted property tax rates are $4.11 for Shelby County and $3.271 for Memphis. Last year’s rates were $4.37 for the county and $3.40 for Memphis.
Memphis property taxes become delinquent on Sept. 1. County property taxes become delinquent next March 1. Many home buyers pay their taxes in their monthly house notes and mortgage companies handle the payments. The mortgage firms generally make the county payments before December 31 each year so the property owners can deduct their payments from last year’s income taxes.
As the percentages indicate, the reduced Memphis and Shelby County property tax rates set as a result of this year’s countywide property reappraisal program give homeowners a little better break on their county taxes than on their Memphis taxes.
Just why that is the case is not clear. It would take a detailed analysis of the numbers that were used in calculating the two governments’ certified tax rates.
A better county break was present, even before County Commission members adopted a county rate two cents lower than the $4.13 tax rate approved as the county’s certified tax rate. A certified rate must be identified each reappraisal year under the state’s Truth in Taxation Law to offset the revenue effect of a change in total values.
The purpose of the once-every-four-years reappraisal program is not to increase revenue but to try to increase the fairness in how much each property owner pays compared to other property owners.
The City Council in June adopted the city’s certified rate of $3.271 for each $100 of assessed valuation as the government’s official tax rate. The rate is 12.9-cent reduction from last year’s rate.
County Commission members in July adopted a $4.11 rate, a 26-cent decrease compared to what would have been a 24-cent reduction from last year’s rate.
Thousands of property owners have appealed their reappraisal values to the Shelby County Board of Equalization. Those who missed the June 30 deadline for this year may appeal next year or in any future year. Some property owners hold back the contested amounts and receive refunds later if they win their appeals.
Join us at the Smart City Memphis Facebook page for daily articles, reports, and commentaries relevant to Memphis.