Delaware Property Taxes
Overview of Delaware Property Taxes
Homeowners in Delaware are required to pay their property taxes every year. Like in most states, Delaware property taxes are administered and collected by county governments. The state and its local governments collect $10 billion in revenue every year. Of that, $883 million comes from property taxes or 8.7% of total revenue. The low percentage of property taxes compared to the total revenue collected indicates a low tax state. Homeowners pay 0.55% of their home value every year in property taxes or $5.47 for every $1,000 in home value. However, Delaware property tax rates vary across the three counties in the state.
Home values in Delaware are not regularly reassessed like in most states. Instead, the local taxing authorities use the values that were determined in the "reassessment year," which is the last time an assessment was done to determine Delaware property taxes. The reassessment year varies across the three counties, the reassessment year for Sussex County is 1974, 1983 for New Castle County, and 1987 for Kent County. A property's assessed value is based on its value as of the reassessment year. For instance, if you own property in Kent County, your home's assessed value is equal to 60% of its market value in 1987.
If you renovate your home or make some additions, such as modern bathrooms and kitchen expansions, your home value will be reassessed however, the assessment does not take the current value of the projects into account. Instead, the Assessor determines what the home value would have been in the reassessment year as a result of the renovation. Unsurprisingly, home values were significantly lower in the reassessment years than they are today and only represent a portion of present-day market values. As a result, Delaware property taxes are often lower in comparison to most other states.
If you are planning to buy a home in Delaware and want to understand how much your property tax bill could potentially cost, check out our Delaware Property Tax Tool to see what your bill would be.
Delaware Property Tax Due Dates
Delaware property taxes are billed on the tax year that runs from July 1st to June 30th. Homeowners receive their tax bill in the last week of July. If you don't receive your property tax bill by August 10th, you are advised to call your county's Treasury Billing Unit. The property tax bill covers the current fiscal year. For instance, the bill you received in July 2020 covers the twelve months ending on June 30th, 2021. Failure to receive a tax bill does not excuse homeowners from paying Delaware property taxes.
When are property taxes due in Delaware? Homeowners are required to pay property taxes in total by September 30th. Bills that remain unpaid after the Delaware property tax due date are subject to an initial 6% penalty, a 5% penalty on school line items, and a 1% penalty each month thereafter. If a Delaware property tax bill remains unpaid, the taxing authority can file a Notice of Judgment, serve a Notice of Warrant and initiate legal proceedings to seize and sell the property. Lost and misplaced bills will not excuse homeowners from accruing the penalties for late payment.
The state accepts payment by cash, checks, money orders, or debit card. Overpaid amounts are applied as account credit towards future Delaware property tax bills. Additionally, homeowners are allowed to pay Delaware property taxes in advance and are credited to the homeowner's account in anticipation of their next bill.
Delaware Property Tax Exemptions
In addition to the option of appealing property taxes if a homeowner disagrees with the Assessor's valuation of their property, the state of Delaware offers several exemptions to eligible homeowners including senior and homestead exemptions. These exemptions can lower a Delaware property tax bill however, the homeowner is still required to comply with Delaware's property tax due dates.
Delaware Homestead Exemption
Under the Delaware Homestead Exemption, homeowners can protect up to $125,000 of their principal residence's equity in case of bankruptcy. The amount exempted is similar for disabled individuals who are unable to work and for married couples, where at least one of the spouses is 65 years of age or older. This exemption has no bearing on how Delaware property taxes accrue.
Delware Senior Citizens Exemption
Delaware's senior exemption is also known as the Senior School Property Tax Relief. Under this exemption, qualifying senior residents receive a tax credit against regular school property taxes of 50% (up to $400) on their principal residence. Homeowners must be at least 65 years of age as of July 1st of the fiscal year for which they are applying. Additionally, their assessed property value must not exceed $125,000.
Other Delaware property tax exemptions include the Disabled Veteran's exemption. This exemption fully exempts eligible veterans from county property taxes and local school taxes on their principal residence. To qualify, the veteran's disability has to be complete and 100% military-related as determined by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. Additionally, the veteran has to be the legal owner of the property.
How to Appeal Your Property Taxes in Delaware
Delaware property assessments must be uniform in each county. To ensure there is uniformity, each county uses the "base year" or "reassessment year" method. However, homeowners who believe their property assessment does not reflect the reassessment year can appeal and potentially lower Delaware property taxes. If you wish to appeal, you are required to contact your local Assessor with your objections. The Assessor can give in or reject your objections. If you are not satisfied with the Assessor's decision, you can appeal to the county Board of Assessment Review (BOAR). The Board hears assessment appeals four times a year. Decisions by BOAR can be further appealed to the Superior Court.
The process of filing an assessment appeal varies across Delaware, though it generally follows the same steps from county to county:
- Obtain your assessment
- Determine if you are overassessed
- Complete forms needed to appeal
- File property tax appeal
- Prepare for hearing
- Attend hearing
- Appeal the decision
How to Appeal Your Property Taxes in New Castle County
To better understand how to appeal your property taxes in Delaware, the following is a breakdown of the process in New Castle County, the most populous county in Delaware.
Obtain your assessment
If you own property in New Castle County, you can obtain your assessment details from the Notice of Proposed Assessment or visit New Castle County's Assessment Department.
Determine if you are over-assessed
A successful appeal must show that the assessed value does not reflect the "reassessment year" (1983) value. You can use TaxProper's search tool or New Castle County's parcel search tool to compare the value of similar units within your location and determine if you are over-assessed.
Complete forms needed to appeal
The forms you need to appeal property taxes can be obtained at the Assessor's office. You can also find them online at New Castle County's document center.
File property tax appeal
Property tax appeals in New Castle County can be filed with the Board of Assessment Review by March 14th. The Board meets on the third Wednesday and Thursday every January, April, July, and October. However, meeting dates may be subject to change.
Prepare for hearing
By law, the Assessor is presumed to be right, and the burden of proof lies with you as the appellant. You are required to provide evidence supporting your case for a lower assessment. This can include sales of comparable properties and oral testimony from an expert witness.
The Board of Assessment Review requires you to attend the appeal hearing in person or send a representative. If you or your representative fail to participate in the hearing within 15 minutes after the scheduled time, your appeal will be deemed abandoned.
Appeal the decision
As a last resort, decisions by the Board of Assessment Review can be appealed to the Superior Court.
Property Tax Information for Delaware Counties
The table below provides county-level information about how property taxes work in each Delaware county.
Want to learn more? Click the county links to learn more about a specific Delaware county.