General Information About Personal Property Assessment
Taxable Personal Property
- Property that qualifies as taxable varies by state. However, all states usually tax any machinery, equipment and furniture that is used in a business regardless of whether the property is being used, is in storage or is being sold. Specific items that are taxable include service-station tools and equipment, logging and construction equipment, and the furniture and equipment of a barber shop or a beauty salon.
Tax-Exempt Personal Property
- Tax-exempt personal property also varies by state but typically includes items such as farm animals, intangible personal property (bonds, shares of stock, and computer software), and items for exclusively personal use (household goods and clothing). Items that are tax-exempt are often closely related and can cause confusion when filing taxes. To make sure there is no mistake about what is taxable and tax-exempt, contact your local county assessor's office.
Filing Tax Returns
- All individuals, corporations and businesses that own taxable personal property must file a return by the deadline set by the county assessor. Usually the county assessor's office will mail return forms, especially if you filed the year before. However, if you do not receive a form in the mail, you are still responsible for obtaining the form, which can be found at the assessor's office. If you need an extension on filing your returns, you must contact the assessor's office before the return deadline. If you fail to file by the return deadline, every state will require you to pay a fine, but the specific fine amount will vary by state.
Paying Property Tax
- Tax statements are usually mailed to property owners at the end of the month (the specific month varies by state), and a percentage of tax due must be paid by early the next month. Depending on the state, the taxpayer may receive a discount if the amount owed is payed in full.
- When a tax payment is not paid on time or is not paid at all, the tax becomes delinquent. A tax collector will send the owner a notice of delinquency stating the payment and interest amount owed. If the tax collector still receives no payment, he may issue a warrant. A copy of the warrant will be sent to the property owner. If the owner still fails to make a payment, the warrant will be sent to the county clerk, who can then garnish the owner's bank account or wages for payment of property taxes. Tax collectors may also seize and sell your property and use the money earned against your debt. Another option is to place a lien on your real property (including your home). If taxes are still unpaid in the time given by your state, the county may foreclose your real property for payment of delinquent taxes.
- If you feel that the county assessor estimated the value of your property incorrectly, you may file an appeal. You must convince a county board that the property was incorrectly assessed by using comparable sales and appraisal reports. You may also file an appeal if you believe that you were charged a late fee as a result of an error by the tax collector.