Arizona is a popular destination for snowbirds and economically savvy Americans. For those looking to relocate, it has a lot to offer. In addition to the warm climate and dramatic landscapes, many people flock to the Sun Belt for the lower cost of living, job opportunities, and tax breaks it provides. Ranking 31st highest in property taxes among the states, Arizona’s massive domestic migration is partially due to the low tax burden on its citizens. Many prefer its metropolitan areas. However, the lowest property taxes in Arizona are in the more remote and rugged corners of the Grand Canyon State.
A Snapshot of Arizona’s Property Taxes
Each year, property owners must pay taxes which the Country Assessors determine by the value of their home. The tax rate includes the sum of your state, county, municipal, district, and school taxes. Local governments then use this money to fund crucial public services such as infrastructure, public safety, and education. Although rates can vary between cities and districts even within the same county, Arizona has some of the lowest property taxes in the country.
Larger cities typically have higher property taxes while rural areas are significantly less. In 2020, Arizona’s average property tax was $1,356 for a home with a median value of $187,700. That equates to 0.72% of the assessed market value. With an average household income of $59,367, Arizona residents dedicate approximately 2.28% of their income to paying property taxes.
Property Taxes by County in Arizona
The state of Arizona has 7.5 million residents who are divided into 15 counties. Each county has its own method in how it calculates and levies taxes. However, the Country Assessors determine taxes based on the assessed market value, not the current market value of your property.
As mentioned above, the average person pays $1,356 annually in property taxes. Residents in Pima County have the highest rate (0.81%) which means they pay about $1,614 each year. Since it is home to the second-largest city of Tuscon, it makes sense they have higher taxes. On the other hand, the more remote counties in the eastern part of the state tend to have the lowest property taxes in Arizona.
Lowest Property Taxes in Arizona
When comparing the lowest property taxes in Arizona, Greenlee County collects the least amount. Charging only 0.46% of the property’s value, its residents paid an average of $303 last year. Not only does it have the lowest taxation rate, but it is also the least populous country. It is followed by Apache Country which includes lands of the Navajo Nation, Zuni Indian Reservation, and the Fort Apache Indian Reservation. The average amount paid per resident was $598. Graham County was only slightly higher at $627 last year.
Property Tax Breaks
Unfortunately, property tax exemptions are limited in Arizona. The few that exist aim to help seniors with limited assets and veterans. Widow(er)s and agricultural property owners should also be able to claim property tax exemptions as well. For those who qualify, the exemption could reduce taxes up to $3,000.
There is also a tax deferral program that allows you to postpone payment until the property sells, the owner dies, or the property produces income. Additionally, eligible residents can apply for a property tax freeze under Proposition 104. To qualify, you must:
- be 65 or older
- use the property as your primary residence
- have lived there at least two years
- have income less than $37,584 for individuals and $46,980 for two or more owners based on the 2020 tax return
- file your application by September 1
Appeals to the County Assessor’s Office
Your home’s value is determined by the County Assessor who uses computer analysis of gathered data. The digital evaluation looks at specific information such as home values in your neighborhood, lot size and components, livable square footage, topography, proximity to major intersections, schools, hospitals, public transportation, and local shopping. But, as with any piece of technology, sometimes it makes mistakes.
Filing an Appeal
If you feel the valuation is incorrect, you can appeal to the County Assessor’s Office. But, only have 25 days to do so in Arizona. The only way to lower your property taxes is to clearly show that it is worth less than the assessed value. In this situation, the burden of proof falls on the petitioner. Therefore, you must provide verifiable evidence that the valuation is incorrect.
Providing Verifiable Evidence
There are several ways you can do this. First, check the information in the official assessment. Any mistakes could result in you paying less money in taxes. Another option is to prove it has a lower valuation. You could do this by obtaining records of recent appraisals, written offers, listings for sale, maps, contracts, and other property values in your neighborhood. Keep in mind that you cannot raise additional issues not included in the initial appeal. So, be certain you gather and include all relevant paperwork to support your case. While you can submit additional proof to support your claim, you can’t introduce new issues that aren’t stated in the appeal.
Any evidence you submit during the review and appeals process will not be passed on to the Board. So, you should make copies and submit them directly to them before the date of your hearing. Typically, they recommend 2 copies and the originals for homes valued under $3 million. However, they suggest 4 copies in addition to the original for all other property types.
Contesting a Decision
If you disagree with the preliminary review, you can always contest it with an additional appeal. However, you should also consider the time it takes and the inconvenience of attending multiple hearings. If the savings aren’t worth your time, it may be more beneficial to accept the higher rate and avoid the hassle.
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