INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — Incline Village and Crystal Bay property owners received their tax bills in the mail recently. It's enlightening to know that there are eight different taxing agencies and two different special assessments that we all contribute to. At least the Washoe County Treasurer is nice enough to give us the detailed breakdown of how our tax dollars are allocated so we can all see the general places where the money is going.
Most property owners pay their taxes in four installments which are spread out unevenly through the year. Unlike the estimated taxes that many of us pay to the federal government on a quarterly basis, the Washoe County property taxes are payable in four installments between August 20, 2012, and March 4, 2013. And this year the first two installments are remarkably close together with the second installment due on October 1, not even six weeks after the first payment.
While less than 1/3 of the property owners in Incline Village and Crystal Bay have received the tax refunds that are owed to them, the county still expects all of us to pay our property taxes in a timely fashion. The penalties add up rather quickly so your best defense is to make sure you submit your payment on time but include a protest letter like most of us have been doing for the last several years.
Until everybody receives a refund and all of us have our property taxes rolled back to the level prescribed by the Nevada Supreme Court, it is advisable for every property owner in our community to continue to submit a protest letter with each property tax payment. We still have the equalization lawsuit pending so the fight is not over with yet.
Some property owners may even see their tax bill decrease slightly from last year. But, if you have made significant improvements to your place in the recent past, you may possibly see an increase in your property tax bill. Events that will trigger an increase could include adding a garage, doing extensive remodeling, or building an addition.
One anomaly that still persists with our local property tax system is that a house and a condo that have the exact same fair market value when you look at their sale prices could have wildly differing property tax bills. Generally the annual property taxes for the condo will be substantially less than the house even though both properties may have sold for the same price on approximately the same date.
It is important that anyone looking to purchase real estate in Incline Village and Crystal Bay take a close look at the property taxes for the specific places they are interested in and not try to use rough percentages to guess what the taxes might be. Since many buyers come from California and they are used to a fairly standard formula under Proposition 13, the nuances and trivialities of the property tax system in Washoe County will seem bizarre and arbitrary.
There is no general rule of thumb for calculating the property taxes for each place that you are viewing when your agent takes you out to look at a variety of properties. The detailed MLS information data sheets provide the tax information for each property making it easy to compare the taxes for all of the properties you are viewing.
And for those of us who are still hoping for our property tax refunds, we can only wish that the Washoe County Treasurer’s office will hire and train more staff so that we won't have to wait another year for money that is rightfully ours. It's unfortunate that the Treasurer’s office won't just do the calculations for each parcel and give credits on account to everyone who has more money owed to them than the amount of their next installment payment.
But in the arcane world of Washoe County finance, property owners will continue to pay money to the County while the County owes money to them.
— Don Kanare is a Realtor at RE/MAX Premier Properties. Read his blog and weekly stats on his website at www.InsideIncline.com.