As valuations soar, property taxes may not


COEUR d’ALENE — After seeing their property valuations jump in a single year, many Kootenai County residents are concerned that their property taxes will skyrocket similarly.

But they shouldn’t panic just yet.

“It’s probably more than anybody wants, including myself,” said Kootenai County Treasurer Steve Matheson. “But it’s not going to be this exponential increase that people are worried about.”

Higher property values ​​don’t necessarily translate to higher property taxes, Matheson said.

That’s because Idaho uses a levy-based tax system.

In this system, taxing districts — such as cities, counties and school districts — set their budgets, determining the revenue each district needs.

Taxing districts can increase their budgets by a maximum of 3% per year, plus an amount for new construction and annexation.

For example, if a taxing district collected $200 million in property taxes in a certain year, it could collect no more than $206 million the following year.

The budgets of all taxing districts are totaled and then divided by the total sum of all property values ​​in the boundaries of the taxing districts. That determines the levy rate.

The levy rate is then applied to each property in the taxing district’s area in order to calculate the individual tax charges for each property.

When budgets increase, the levy rate also increases, causing property taxes to rise. But property values ​​do not influence the levy rate.

“The more important question is how much each taxing district is going to increase the tax obligation on each property owner,” Matheson said. “That’s what you have more control over.”

Exact tax increases or decreases will be determined as cities, counties and other taxing districts set their budgets.

Matheson encourages property owners to look at where most of their tax dollars are going. This information can be searched on the Treasurer’s Office website.

From there, Matheson said, property owners can attend public meetings to ask about how their taxing districts are increasing their taxing authority and why.

“I think that’s where people should be focusing,” he said. “Those conversations are taking place now until August and September.”

Those who are unsatisfied with their 2022 value assessments still have time to appeal. The deadline is Monday, June 27.

On Friday afternoon, 44 appeals had been filed with the Board of Equalization. A total of 81 appeals were filed last year, while 76 were filed in 2020.

Before filing an appeal, property owners can first contact the Assessor’s Office and speak with an appraiser. 208-446-1500 or email kcassr@kcgov.us.

County Assessor Béla Kovacs said the number of calls and visits to his office from taxpayers appears to have increased compared to last year.

“There seems to be heightened focus and awareness on property assessments this year,” he told The Press via email.

Some of that can be attributed to the area’s continued, rapid growth. New residents often have questions about how Idaho’s property tax system differs from the state from which they moved, Kovacs said.

The forms to appeal a 2022 property value assessment are available at www.kcgov.us/529/Property-Assessment-Appeal.

They can also be picked up in person at 451 N. Government Way in Coeur d’Alene.

Appeal forms must be received by the Board of County Commissioners no later than 5 pm Monday, June 27.

Submissions may be mailed to PO Box 9000, Coeur d’Alene, or delivered in person to 451 N. Government Way.

Property owners will then be scheduled to appeal before the Board of Equalization.

Matheson recommends property owners use the Idaho State Tax Commission’s online calculator to estimate their 2022 tax bill.

The calculator will be available at www.tax.idaho.gov/i01072.cfm. The estimation using the tool will not account for any additional levies or bonds approved in August or November elections. Still, the calculator is usually accurate within 1 or 2 percent.

Matheson said many property owners are likely to see that their estimated tax bills aren’t as big as they feared.

“They’ll probably breathe a sigh of relief,” he said.

If property owners are still experiencing sticker shock, Matheson said, they can contact the Treasurer’s Office for more guidance: 208-446-1005.

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