Iowa Property Taxes
Overview of Iowa Property Taxes
It is the obligation of every homeowner in Iowa to pay property taxes every year. Property taxes are the major source of funding for local government units including cities, counties, school districts, community college districts, agricultural extension districts, and townships. Like in many states, Iowa property taxes are collected by the counties. The state and its local governments collect $34 billion in revenue every year. Of that, $5 billion or 14.9% of total revenue is from property taxes. Iowa is generally a high tax state and the average homeowner pays 1.42% of their home value every year in property taxes or $14.17 for every $1,000 in home value.
Properties in Iowa are assessed every two years in odd-numbered years to determine their value. Each county and some individual cities have assessors whose job is to estimate the value of each property within their jurisdiction. This value is called the assessed value. State laws require properties to be assessed at their "actual or market value" which is the amount a willing buyer would pay for the property. Iowa property taxes are based on your property's assessed value and the tax rates as determined by the local taxing authorities. To cushion homeowners against inflation and the inevitable rise in property values, the state of Iowa has an assessment limitation law called "rollback". The law dictates that the total assessed values within the state cannot increase by more than 3%. If the values increase by over 3%, the state "rolls back" the home values by applying an "assessment ratio" as determined by the Iowa Director of Revenue. For 2021, that ratio is 63.75%.
Iowa property tax rates are set by the local taxing districts depending on their budgetary requirements and the total assessed values of properties within the district. Each taxing district determines its budget according to the cost of providing its mandated services. The budget is approved and sent to the County Auditor who divides it by the taxable value of all properties in the taxing district. The resulting figure is referred to as "dollars per thousand." For instance, if the dollar per thousand were $20, you would owe $20 in taxes for every $1000 in home value. If your property has an assessed value of $200,000, your Iowa property tax bill would add up to $4,000.
If you are planning to buy a home in Iowa and want to understand how much your property tax bill could potentially cost, check out our Iowa Property Tax Tool to see what your bill would be.
Iowa Property Tax Due Dates
Properties in Iowa are assessed on January 1. The assessments are completed by April 1 which is also the time that Assessment Notices are sent to homeowners. If you disagree with the assessor's valuation of your property, the state allows you to appeal property taxes. The first step is contacting your local assessor and requesting an informal review of the assessment. If you disagree with the review, you can appeal to the local Board of Review. Further appeals can be filed with the Property Assessment Appeal Board or the District Court. You must pay Iowa property taxes pending the outcome of your appeal.
But when are property taxes due in Iowa? Iowa property taxes are payable in one or two half installments. The first installment is due on September 1 while the second is payable by March 1. The taxes become delinquent on September 30 and March 31 respectively. If the last day of the month is a weekend or holiday, the deadline is pushed to the first business day of the following month. Property taxes that remain unpaid after Iowa property tax due dates accrue interest at a rate of 1.5% per month. Delinquent taxes can result in a "Tax Sale", a public auction in which the highest bidder takes your property.
As a homeowner, it is your responsibility to ensure you receive a tax bill and pay taxes on time. Failure to receive a tax bill doesn't exempt you from paying Iowa property taxes. If you have not received your tax bill by end of September, contact your County Treasurer. The state allows homeowners to make partial payments for current and delinquent property taxes. However, for delinquent taxes, the partial payment must exceed the late interest and any additional costs.
Iowa Property Tax Exemptions
Besides the option to appeal property taxes if wrongly assessed, the state of Iowa provides several exemptions to eligible homeowners. They include homestead and senior exemptions. Qualifying parties can potentially reduce their Iowa property tax bill. However, you are still required to comply with Iowa property tax due dates notwithstanding your eligibility.
Iowa Homestead Exemption
Iowa's version of the homestead exemption is called the Homestead Tax Credit. The exemption exempts the first $4,850 of your property's taxable value from Iowa property taxes. To be eligible, you must live in the Iowa property for 6 months of the year, be a legal resident of the state, and be residing there on July 1. However, the benefit is not automatic for Iowa homeowners and you must file to claim the credit.
Iowa Senior Citizens Exemption
The senior exemption provides tax relief for homeowners under the provisions of Iowa Code Section 425.16. To qualify, you have to be at least 65 years, use the property as your principal residence, and meet certain income limit requirements as set by the State of Iowa. Application forms for this credit can be obtained from the County Treasurer's office.
Other Iowa property tax exemptions include the Disabled Veteran's Homestead Tax Credit. This exemption encourages homeownership by disabled veterans by offering a 100% exemption from Iowa property taxes for eligible veterans. Eligibility requirements include 100% service-related disability status. Additionally, the veteran has to be 100% unemployable due to the injuries, be using the property as their principal residence, and occupy the property for at least six months. The surviving, unmarried spouse of an eligible veteran also qualifies for this exemption. More information about this and more exemptions can be found on the Iowa Department of Revenue's website.
How to Appeal Your Property Taxes in Iowa
The state of Iowa allows homeowners who disagree with the assessor's valuation of their property to appeal property taxes. A successful appeal can lower your Iowa property taxes. The first step of appeal starts with the assessor where you request an informal review of your assessment. The assessor may correct the assessment or recommend that you file a formal appeal with the local Board of Review. The written appeal must be filed with the board between April 2 and April 30. The board meets annually in May to hear property appeals. You can appeal the board's decision to the Property Assessment Appeal Board (PAAB). Decisions by the PAAB can be further appealed to the District Court. Alternatively, you can bypass the PAAB and file directly with the District Court.
The process of filing an assessment appeal varies across Iowa 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 Polk County
To help you understand how to appeal your property taxes in Iowa, the following is a breakdown of the process in Polk County, Iowa's most populous county.
Obtain your assessment
If you own property in Polk County, you can obtain your assessment details on the Assessment Notice. Alternatively, you can consult the Polk County Assessor's office.
Determine if you are over-assessed
A property tax appeal challenges the assessed value of your property. You can establish how your property's assessed value compares with the sales of similar units by using TaxProper's search tool to search for similar properties in your locality. The Polk County Assessor's website also has a similar search tool.
Complete forms needed to appeal
The forms needed to appeal your property taxes will be provided to you at the Polk County Assessor's office.
File property tax appeal
After the informal review with the assessor, you are required to file your property tax appeal with the Local Board of Review. Appeals must be filed between April 2 and April 30 of the year of assessment. The Board meets in May every year.
Prepare for hearing
The County Assessor is presumed by law to be right and the burden of proof lies with you as the appellant. You are required to provide solid evidence supporting your opinion of the assessment. This can include a description of the property including maps and photographs, recent sales of comparable properties, and testimony from an appraiser.
You must attend a property appeal hearing in person or send a representative. However, you can request a telephone hearing. Your appeal can be dismissed for lack of prosecution if you or your representative fail to attend a scheduled hearing.
Appeal the decision
If you are not satisfied with the local Board of Review's decision, you can further appeal to the Property Assessment Appeal Board (PAAB). As a last resort, you can appeal the PAAB's decision to the District Court.
Property Tax Information for Iowa Counties
The table below provides county-level information about how property taxes work in each Iowa county.
Want to learn more? Click the county links to learn more about a specific Iowa county.
|County||Average Home Value||Average Tax Bill||Bill per $1,000|
|Black Hawk County||$144,426||$2,185||$15.10|
|Buena Vista County||$129,247||$1,703||$13.20|
|Cerro Gordo County||$141,654||$1,817||$12.80|
|Des Moines County||$124,646||$1,810||$14.50|
|Palo Alto County||$107,976||$1,379||$12.80|
|Van Buren County||$95,782||$1,277||$13.30|