The property tax rates for St. George and Washington County are fairly easy to estimate for the purposes of obtaining a ballpark figure. The general rule of thumb is to multiply the assessed value of the property by 1%, unless you make the home your primary residence, in which case you should multiply by .055%.
The precise property tax amount will depend on exactly where you made your purchase, because school district fees and several other factors influence tax rates.
Exceptions to the 1% Tax Rate Rule
There are several exceptions to the formula which calculates tax rates based on 1% of the assessed value of your home. The biggest exception, as mentioned above, is when a buyer intends to use the home as primary residence – in this case, 45% of the tax amount will be subtracted from the original figure, so that you end up paying a little more than 50% of the tax rate before the exemption.
If there is any question about which home is your primary residence, it will always be the one listed on your federal income tax form, and in the state you had your drivers license issued.
Senior citizens earning less than $30,700 per year are also entitled to a tax rate discount, as are legally blind homeowners, and disabled veterans.
What This Means For Second Home Owners
Having a primary residence in Washington County has its privileges. Second home owners currently have to pay a property tax rate 45% higher than those with a primary residence in the county. In addition to second homes, this also includes cabins and time-shares. Vacant land and commercial properties also do not qualify as primary residences are are taxed at 100% of their assessed market value.
The assessment of the property which provides the base figure upon which tax rates are calculated, comes directly from the Washington County Assessor. and is not necessarily based on the purchase price of your home. Since purchase prices in Utah are not a matter of public record, the County Assessor will not know your purchase price anyway, unless you provide that information.
If the assessed value of your home is significantly higher than the purchase price, you should notify the assessor of that fact, and you will have an opportunity to request a review of the market value of your home.
Fluctuating Property Values
When property values fluctuate from year to year, your tax rate may be affected. If property values go up substantially, your tax rate is very likely to also increase substantially. However, this does not usually work in reverse – when property values decrease, even significantly, there is seldom a corresponding significant decrease in the tax rate.
This is because the county has built in a safeguard against losing tax dollars so as to guarantee that collected revenues remain relatively stable over time, and do not cause uncomfortable budget shortfalls. If you dispute the assessed value of your home, you can submit a formal request for review to the county in which you can attempt to justify your reasoning for a lower assessed property value.