Wisconsin Property Taxes
Overview of Wisconsin Property Taxes
Unless exempt from taxation, every homeowner in Wisconsin is required to pay property taxes every year. Wisconsin property taxes are collected by town, village, or city treasurers on behalf of the taxing authorities that include municipalities, school districts, and counties. The state and its local governments collect $50.9 billion in revenue every year. Of that, $9.5 billion comes from property taxes. Wisconsin property tax rates are some of the highest in the country. The average homeowner pays $17.99 for every $1,000 of their home value in property taxes. However, tax rates fluctuate from county to county.
How do Wisconsin property taxes work? The taxes are based on your property's assessed value and the tax rates as determined by the taxing authorities. Each taxing district across the state has local assessors who are tasked with assessing properties for purposes of taxation. Properties are assessed at their "market value" which is the amount the property would sell for. Because market values vary with location, The Wisconsin Department of Revenue applies an equalized value annually to maintain equity in local assessments across municipalities and counties and determines an "assessment ratio" for each taxing district. This ratio helps homeowners determine if their property was correctly valued. For instance, if your property has an assessed value of $150,000 and the assessment ratio is 0.80, your property's market value should be ($150,000/0.80) $187,500.
Wisconsin property tax rates vary depending on the location of your property and the taxing district. Taxing authorities have separate tax rates depending on their budgetary requirements. The tax rates are calculated by dividing the total revenue a particular taxing district requires by the total assessed values of properties within the district. If a district intends to generate $10,000 from property taxes against cumulative assessed values of $1,000,000, the tax rate would be 0.01 or 1%. Wisconsin property tax rates are expressed in dollars per $1000 of assessed value. Tax Proper has comprehensive information including average home values, average tax bills, and the effective tax rates for all the counties in Wisconsin.
If you are planning to buy a home in Wisconsin and want to understand how much your property tax bill could potentially cost, check out our Wisconsin Property Tax Tool to see what your bill would be.
Wisconsin Property Tax Due Dates
Properties are assessed every year as of January 1 to classify the land on basis of use (commercial, residential, agriculture, etc.) and determine the property's assessed value. The state of Wisconsin offers you options to appeal property taxes if you disagree with the assessor's valuation. The Board of Review (BOR) is the first step of the appeal process. However, appeals for properties within a city are filed with the Board of Assessors. Decisions by BOR can be appealed to the Circuit Court to the department of revenue. It is noteworthy that you can only appeal the assessment, not the tax rates.
But when are property taxes due in Wisconsin? Wisconsin property taxes should be paid in full by January 31. However, the state allows you to pay property taxes in two installments due on January 31 and July 31. The installment options will be indicated on your tax bill. However, if your property tax bill is below $100, it must be paid in full by January 31. Under state law, you can also pay your Wisconsin property taxes in advance from August 1 until the third Monday in December each year.
Taxes that remain unpaid after Wisconsin property tax due dates result in a penalty of 1% per month from February 1 until paid. Some counties impose an additional penalty of 1.5% per month. Note that the fraction of a month counts as a whole month. Homeowners who fail to pay their taxes at all can lose their property in a tax sale. Additionally, failure to receive a tax bill doesn't excuse you from paying Wisconsin property taxes and additional penalties for late payment. If you don't receive your tax bill, contact your County Treasurer.
Wisconsin Property Tax Exemptions
Apart from appealing property taxes if you believe your property was wrongly valued, the state of Wisconsin offers several exemptions to eligible homeowners. The most common are homestead and senior exemptions. Eligible homeowners can save hundreds of dollars in Wisconsin property taxes. However, you are still required to comply with Wisconsin property tax due dates even if you qualify for these exemptions.
Wisconsin Homestead Exemption
Wisconsin's homestead exemption is also known as Homestead tax credit. It is an income-based property tax program that eases the Wisconsin property tax burden for low-income earners in the state. The amount you stand to benefit varies depending on how you meet household income limits. To qualify, you must be a legal resident of Wisconsin, have an annual household income of less than $24,680, and occupy a dwelling that is subject to Wisconsin property taxes.
Wisconsin Senior Citizens Exemption
Wisconsin's senior exemption is an extension of the homestead credit that benefits disabled seniors aged 62 or older who are also full-year residents of Wisconsin. To qualify, your total household income must not exceed $24,680. More information about this program can be obtained from the Wisconsin Department of Revenue's website.
Other Wisconsin property tax exemptions include the Disabled Veteran Property Tax Credit. This program benefits disabled veterans by providing a property tax credit on their state income tax return if their disability is 100% service-related. The Wisconsin Veterans and Surviving Spouses Property Tax Credit are administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs per state laws. The veteran must have been a Wisconsin resident when they started serving and lived in the state for five consecutive years after entering active service.
How to Appeal Your Property Taxes in Wisconsin
You can appeal property taxes in Wisconsin if you have reasons to disagree with the assessor's valuation of your property. The State of Wisconsin is responsible for tax law administration while the taxing districts are tasked with the valuation and collection of taxes. The appeal process, therefore, starts at the local level. The first step is consulting your local assessor. The assessor reviews the evidence you have challenging his/her valuation and may reject or accept the objections. If you are not satisfied with the assessor's decision, you can appeal to the Board of Review or Board of Assessors depending on the location of your property. If there is a difference of opinion with the Boards, the next appeal avenue is with the Department of Revenue or the Circuit Court.
The process of filing an assessment appeal varies across Wisconsin 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 Milwaukee County
For a better understanding of how to appeal your property taxes in Wisconsin, the following is a breakdown of the process in Milwaukee County, the most populous county in Wisconsin.
Obtain your assessment
If you are a homeowner in Milwaukee County, you can obtain your assessment details from your tax bill. You can also contact your local assessor.
Determine if you are over-assessed
A property tax appeal challenges the valuation of your property. To find out if your assessment is in line with similar properties, check out the sales of similar units within your locality using TaxProper's search tool and compare the prices with your property's valuation to see if it is a reflection of the market.
Complete forms needed to appeal
To appeal to the Board of Review, you must complete an objection form which can be obtained from your municipal clerk. The board can refuse to act on your appeal if the form is not completely and correctly filled.
File property tax appeal
Property taxes in Milwaukee County can be filed with the Board of Review's clerk during the first 2 hours of the board's first scheduled meeting. The board meets in the thirty days following the second Monday of May.
Prepare for hearing
The assessor's value and classification are presumed correct. It is upon you as the appellant to provide concrete evidence to convince the Board that the assessor's valuation of your property is above its true value. Evidence can include recent sales of comparable properties, your estimate of the land value, and other factors affecting the property's market value like depreciation and obsolescence.
The Board of Review requires you to attend a property appeal hearing. Alternatively, you can send a representative, friend, relative, or attorney. The Board can hear your testimony via telephone if you are sick or disabled although you must present a letter from a physician.
Appeal the decision
You can appeal the Board of Review's decisions to the Department of Revenue or the Circuit Court.
Property Tax Information for Wisconsin Counties
The table below provides county-level information about how property taxes work in each Wisconsin county.
Want to learn more? Click the county links to learn more about a specific Wisconsin county.
|County||Average Home Value||Average Tax Bill||Bill per $1,000|
|Eau Claire County||$174,912||$2,992||$17.10|
|Fond du Lac County||$166,391||$3,065||$18.40|
|Green Lake County||$182,035||$2,864||$15.70|
|La Crosse County||$174,204||$3,341||$19.20|
|St. Croix County||$227,650||$3,478||$15.30|