Property Tax Proceedings

Authored by , LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor and Attorney at Law

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What Are Property Taxes For?

For most local, city, and state governments, property taxes are a main source of revenue. Such taxes are generally used to fund various services such as emergency response services, flood and natural disaster assistance, fire control, and educational institutions like community colleges. In fact, property taxes are so important for the maintenance of government activities that sometimes special districts are created for tax goals. 

In the event of a dispute over property taxes, a property tax proceeding may become necessary. Here, the court will analyze whether a violation has occurred, and what the proper remedies may be. If violations such as tax evasion are an issue, the relevant laws need to be included in the court’s analysis.  

Which Entities Can Impose Property Taxes?

Most general-purpose government entities can impose property taxes on citizens. These include counties, cities, and special districts (sometimes called “special assessment districts”). 

In some cases, even school districts are granted the power to assess taxes on people. Many people don’t know this and simply assume that all taxes are initiated by municipal councils or other similar entities. In any case, property taxes are usually imposed according to geographic boundaries. 

What If I Don’t Wish to Pay Certain Property Taxes?

In some cases, a citizen or a group of citizens may feel that property taxes or other taxes are unfair. In such cases, it’s usually possible to challenge the taxes through various mechanisms. This will depend mostly on the type of taxes as well as the group that initiated the tax rule. 

For instance, for many states, special districts must obtain voter approval before they can impose certain taxes. This commonly requires approval from 2/3 of the voters in that district. Thus, voting is one way for property taxes to be challenged.

In some cases, a tax may actually violate the law.  A common example of this is where a tax violates constitutional principles because it is discriminatory. Here, the validity of the tax law itself can be challenged through a lawsuit. In that case, it becomes necessary to work closely with a property and/or constitutional lawyer for assistance with the property tax proceeding. 

Should I Hire a Lawyer if I Have Legal Issues Involving Property Tax Proceedings? 

Property tax proceedings can be very complex because they have the potential to affect large groups of people, or even entire communities. If you have any legal issues, questions, or disputes involving property taxes, you may wish to contact a property lawyer immediately for advice.  Your attorney can determine what legal action you should take, and can represent you in court if necessary. 

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Last Modified: 02-05-2014 11:58 AM PST

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