Show us your property tax statement

The annual NewsCut tradition — our 10th and last — is underway with the arrival of your property tax statement, that completely indecipherable calculation that leads to the bottom line.

Times are good in the economy, they say, so almost every unit of government took the opportunity to dig deep after — allegedly — years of what they considered austerity.

The Trump tax break to (mostly) the wealthy has eliminated the property tax deduction in favor of a higher standard deduction (offset somewhat by the loss of exemption, but that’s a different topic), which makes things sting a little more this year.

Let’s get to it:

There was a big jump in market value (maybe because we had a kitchen redone) and the taxable market value wasn’t reduced as much as last year because of a reduction in the “homestead market value exclusion,” and if you know how that is calculated year to year, there’s help for that.

Anyway, the bottom line in my neck of the woods is a 10 percent increase in property taxes, which is a little odd considering the only industry in Woodbury are cheap chain stores and housing permits and both are booming.

A 22 percent increase in the Met Council’s Transit assessment is interesting, given that Woodbury is the transit backwater it’s been since transit was cut significantly during the early days of the Pawlenty administration. There are promises that someday the Gold Line bus rapid transit, which because of Lake Elmo’s refusal to let it end in its community will only extend into Woodbury for about a half mile, will be built. But it’s a race right now between it and Armageddon.

We approved some school levies because out here we still believe that smart kids are better than stupid ones, and we made the mistake of spreading assessments for street repaving over 10 years or so, rather than just biting the bullet and writing a check for the street work. Like many communities, a third of the cost is paid for assessments on homeowners.

All in all, it’s a typical statement. Nobody likes paying taxes, but the quality of life and amenities are good, Washington County is unbeatable at plowing roads and providing parks, the schools are decent when they’re not hiring killers and perverts to ride the buses, and every few years or so you can meet the neighbors.

By the way, I turn 65 this year, so I should be eligible at some point for Minnesota’s senior citizen tax deferral program, in which the state lends you money to pay your taxes beyond 3 percent of your total household income. It’s better than losing your home, but this seems like a problematic situation when the state comes looking for its money when you die or sell. I’d be interested in hearing from people who’ve used the program.

Anyway, your turn. I’m interested in hearing from people whose taxable home values have dropped but whose taxes have gone up.

  • Barton

    Mine came in the mail yesterday. It currently sits on a chair with the rest of the mail to be opened later….. But I’ll get on this later today.

    • Jeff

      At least for Washington County you can look it up online pretty easily by address (your neighbor’s too for that matter).

  • jon
  • QuietBlue

    I don’t have mine handy, but the value went up (I want to say around 15% or so). No improvements and I don’t recall the various tax jurisdiction details offhand.

    In my case, the tax law changes meant that it no longer benefited me to itemize and I went with the standard deduction this time around (obviously federal income tax is a different subject, but property ownership plays a part there too).

  • Bill H

    I live in Woodbury too. Our taxes actually went DOWN about $34, but our house value didn’t go up as much as yours did. It was interesting to see Metro Transit tax was about the only one that went up a lot.

    • 212944

      Our overall tax bill went down as well, I believe less than $100. That is as specific as I can get as I only glanced at it and left it on the table at home. House valuation went up (no improvements. I will try to remember to check tonight.

      On edit (am home):
      For 2018 values for taxes payable in 2019, it looks like home valuation is actually down a bit under 1 percent and taxes down about 2.6 percent (it is the 2020 propose valuation that is up, 2.3 percent).

      This is Woodbury as well. Viva WoodVega$.

  • John

    No improvements to the house in the last few years.

    I don’t have it handy, but my recollection from looking at it a week or two ago when it arrived:

    Value went up considerably (St. Louis Park) for the first time in several years.
    Homestead exclusion decreased. It’s almost pointless at this time.
    I seem to recall that the absolute tax stayed nearly constant. Possibly dropping slightly. It didn’t change enough that it stuck in my mind. (I’ll try to remember to check when I get home tonight). I sort of remember being surprised by that, given that my value jumped.

  • I found it humorous that I received a letter only about 2 weeks ago about increases to my property taxes and the accompanying meetings to discuss said increases, and then my property tax statement showed up yesterday…with increases.

    Increases included an assessment for a sidewalk reconstruction, an updated school levy (I ALWAYS vote yes for these), and my home’s taxable value went up by about $30k.

    All told, my taxes went up about $500 from last year.

    /Hennepin County – South Minneapolis, just north of MSP

  • AL287

    The home I lived in before my divorce was built in 1953 so any improvements we made to the house were not taxable at least that’s how I think it worked (Houston County).

    I rent now and will be getting back close to $1,000 refund in property taxes. This tells me rents are way too high.

    The refund is nice but I’d rather my rent go down $100/month so I’m not living hand to mouth.

    The interesting aspect of the current real estate market is large houses with 3+ bedrooms are not selling, likely due to younger generations having smaller families or no children at all. They don’t want McMansions and the added upkeep and property taxes that come with them.

    • Where in Houston County? We used to live in Spring Grove.

      • AL287

        La Crescent

        • Definitely a different tax dynamic there as a satellite of the LaCrosse urban area.

  • wendywulff

    I could write a book about property tax laws, but I won’t. Value up from $248k to $266k. Taxes up from $3009 to $3198. Valuation for next year’s taxes will go up to $279k. FYI, if you disagree with the valuation for 2020, read that form carefully and appeal now. Waiting until the fall truth in taxation hearing is too late.

    • wendywulff

      Also, don’t forget to file the state property tax refund paperwork. There are a lot of people who qualify, but don’t bother to apply.

    • How would mere mortals even know how to argue valuation?

      • Frank

        About ten years ago, I refinanced my mortgage. This was just after they started requiring actual bona fide appraisals again to get a loan.

        The appraisal was several pages long, and I tucked it away and forgot about it. Then I got my new proposed valuation, which was higher than that of the appraisal. I called Ramsey County, and spoke to a guy who came out. He was very pleasant, and not in any way confrontational.

        The result: I won! Plus, since I’d already paid for the appraisal as a part of the re-fi, it cost me nothing.

      • wendywulff

        I did it once about 20 years ago. The county was helpful in walking me through their rationale, and I corrected some false information about what was in our house. Went down slightly. Now Dakota County has online tax/valuation info, with links to what they think are comparable properties. If they have wrong info about your house, it is pretty easy to correct. If the info is correct, but you think the value is high, a really tight housing market (houses in my neighborhood sell immediately) makes it unlikely you would see a reduction based on comparables.

      • J Allen

        I did it eight years ago, thanks to the county doing a reassessment at the same time I was refinancing my home mortgage and had my own home’s assessed value at hand. I added some comparable home sales after finding some in my area on Zillow in support as well. The county lowered their assessment value and I think I saved about $100 a year in taxes, which by now has justified the cost of paying for my refi.

        • My son’s home went down in assessed value but up in taxes. He’d like to argue it but is afraid they’d just raise his assessed value. The system isn’t for normal people.

          • J Allen

            If the county/city/schools raised their levy amount(s) then property taxes will go up. You can argue about that before the next election of your county commissioners though.

  • Rob

    Home value down just a tad (still can’t complain, since house has almost tripled in value since the late ’90s), taxes up. Three guesses as to which part of the metroplex I live in – and the first two guesses don’t count. Hint: nearby neighborhoods look a little post-Armageddon, thanks to the city’s scorched- earth policy regarding the Emerald Ash Borer.

    • JamieHX

      Merriam Park in Saint Paul? All of our trees are gone. Well, not ALL of them. But LOTS of them.

  • Joe

    Our property taxes went up 10%. Nearly half of that is an increase in public school levy, and with two elementary-aged kids, certainly cannot complain there. And our value went up, so the remainder seems reasonable to me.

    In general, I’m very happy to pay taxes and be able to live in a well-run place that (at least somewhat) cares for its citizens.

    • Al

      Glad to hear it, as we have a bond referendum coming up in a few months for our district, and one of my biggest fears is that folks won’t see past the extra tax bill to how good decent schools are for our community and our kids (not to mention for our own property values).

  • Sonny T

    If you rent you pay nothing. Except what they tag you for in rent.

    “The Trump tax break to (mostly) the wealthy…” I’m getting tired of hearing this. I’m not wealthy and I got more money. The people I work with aren’t wealthy and they got more money.

    The tax cut is a good thing for working people. It might be a great thing for wealthy people, but it’s still a good thing for working people. Pointing up and saying down is getting old.

    • Objective analysis of the tax cut is indisputable on the point of whom it benefitted most.

      https://www.npr.org/2017/12/19/571754894/charts-see-how-much-of-gop-tax-cuts-will-go-to-the-middle-class

      Now, do you have a tax bill you want to share or are you just here to carry some water ?

      • Sonny T

        I believe the other side would facts and figures you to death. Then your side would respond with yet more facts and figures, then the other side…

        As I said, maybe it’s a great deal for the wealthy, and only a good deal for working folk. Right now, I’ll take a good deal. Been awhile since the government gave me one.

    • Sybil Twilight

      “If you rent you pay nothing. Except what they tag you for in rent”

      Nonsense. These two statements are contradictory. A portion of the rent I pay to a property owner pays the owners property taxes, hence I receive an annual CRP (reports the percentage of my rent that is used to pay property taxes.)

      What I don’t get is the itemized tax detail, so I have no real idea what I am contributing to local schools, or the Met Council, or any of the other government entities who are collecting property taxes.

      • Sonny T

        Yes.

      • Brian Simon

        Yeah. When I had a rental property, the rent covered the taxes & most of my mortgage too. Sure, the tenants got a rental credit from the state; and the county sent the bill to me; but, c’mon, it’s a business, and like any other, the costs are passed on to the customer.

    • Mike

      This is the long con of Republican tax cuts of the last 40 years, from Reagan to Trump. Sure, you got a little more money back. Proportionally, however, the richest people got way more back than you did. All to the detriment of public services that you’re much more likely to depend on than the rich.

      • Sonny T

        Which public services were cut? Also, who cares what the rich get? I don’t. I figure they’ll get it anyway.

        Look, the working stiff got money. That’s all that matters. If you are saying leave the tax cut with the working class, and rescind it for the wealthy, I’m on board.

        • Mike

          “If you are saying leave the tax cut with the working class, and rescind it for the wealthy, I’m on board.”

          That’s the definition of progressive taxation, and I’ve been on board with that since I cast my first vote 30 years ago. Problem is that’s not what we got. The pennies given to the working class in these deals are camouflage for the millions given to the rich.

          Starving public services of revenue through massive tax cuts to the rich is a time-tested tactic of right wingers. Then they claim we can’t afford public services once we’ve deliberately deprived them of money. See how that works?

      • Al

        Those services are SO important, and they feel like a total afterthought (if a thought at all) when it comes to tax breaks. Which is probably not surprising given the annual income of lawmakers vs. the rest of the population. I’m happy to pay more for services we can use and people to staff them.

  • Al

    Wait! The Gold Line really is imminent! 2024 completion. I’m at monthly update meetings. Between that and the Rush Line, the East Metro is coming up.

    • Terrible termination point. Thanks, Lake Elmo!

      • Al

        To get to my station, I have to either drive to the station, or walk through pretty unsafe conditions to get to a connecting line that only comes every 60 minutes. We’re no Minneapolis, that’s for sure. But it’s a step in the right direction.

        • It’ll be great if you’re a 3M employee. But, if you’re one of the city people trying to get to shopping center/fast food jobs in Woodbury (which is one of the stated goals and you’d be surprise how many reverse commuting service workers there are), it falls far short because of Lake Elmo’s selfishness. It only goes about a half mile into Woodbury . It should be terminating out by Manning. But Lake Elmo went all Lake Elmo on the project.

          • Al

            I’m not surprised at the number of reverse commuters. We (the societal “we”) have a long way to go in accommodating the needs of folks who rely solely on transit. We do an okay job accommodating the needs of folks for whom transit is one of many options.

            Part of it is that we don’t have enough folks at the table–in the legislature, in decision-making bodies, in committees–who fall into the former group, because we can’t or won’t change the way we work to include them.

          • We could have a local circulator bus to help manage “the last mile”, but yeah, no love lost on Lake Elmo here.

          • J Allen

            Given the Prairie Island tribe’s current ownership of land to the NE of the I-94/Manning intersection, if a new casino is built there I would imagine they’d be happy to pay for an extension of the Gold Line.

      • 212944

        Lake Elmo is the Grandpa Simpson of the eastern ‘burbs.

  • We live in Woodbury. Ours is almost exactly what Bob’s is but without the special assessment, since we paid for the street work up front.

  • Jeff

    We live in Forest Lake. The school bond passed, valuation went up about $25k (no idea why, maybe my prized tomato crop last year?) and taxes went up a total of $462 to $4,880 (ugh).
    -$51 for transit I’ll never use, but that’s ok.
    -$16 to control mosquitos (they send out a helicopter once a year to assault the little devils in the pond in the back. I’m skeptical it does any good).
    -$1,500 for the city which seems like a ok deal for police, fire, and they do a great job clearing the roads in the winter.
    -$1,753 for the schools. They educated 3 of mine and they’re all doing well. I wish they’d do a lot better in sports – always get trampled by the same old metro teams.
    -$219 to the water district. I have no idea what they do, but if they’re out there protecting the watershed, then that’s money well spent.

    • BJ

      There is a housing shortage again, I just had my house appraised and it was 50K more than I would have expected.

  • J Allen

    Property taxes get so much attention because unlike income taxes there’s no withholding that hides the bill. Ditto for sales taxes that only take small bites at a time that add up. So the perception of them outweighs their actual amount. As a home-owner in western Wisconsin my property taxes have remained around $2,400 for the past fifteen years, while my home’s value has gone up, then down, then up again. So it goes.

  • J Allen

    What is surprising people I imagine is that the last time they may have had their home’s value assessed was during the depths of the great recession when home prices had dropped. If they were re-assessed for this year, after home sales have recovered and prices have gone up, they could well be seeing a jump in their home’s value. You could say “my taxes will go up!” but really, isn’t it the case that until your home was re-assessed you were paying less in taxes than you would have been otherwise? This is why there are “open book” sessions where you can review not only your own property taxes but those of your neighbors, and see if you’re being treated fairly or not. These days you can go online and do your own open book review as most counties have everyone’s information available for you to look up.

  • Pej

    Woodbury here too.
    Taxable Market Value up 2.82% **
    Taxes down 0.22% ($10! wooooo!)

    ISD622 other levies down by $205
    ISD622 voter approved levies up by $186
    Most other city/county/MetCouncil items wobbled up or down minimally to net that $10 change.

    ** Market value finally caught back up to previous high point value from 2007. Never mind that we’ve done a ton of improvements since then, inside and outside. That was just peak-Woodbury, I guess.