Businesses can easily get bogged down in property tax data. County addresses, deadlines, valuation methods, depreciation tables, tax ratios… there are too many data types to list. And while there are common pieces of information people look for, the options are limited when it comes to places to look. That’s because a good chunk of this data varies by jurisdiction. So instead of having central repositories for “property tax information,” a single county website may be your only option. And even finding that isn’t quite as easy as it seems (we’ll get to that later).
So when you do need property tax information, what is the best way to find it? Whether you’re looking for information about a specific property you own or more general information about property tax in your state or county, one of the resources listed below should help lead you to the answers.
Best Places To Gather Property Tax Information
Your Property Tax Documentation
The most authoritative source for property tax information will always be your own assessments and tax bills. The physical documents you receive from your assessor’s or collector’s office are correct 99.9% of the time. (I can’t go as far as 100% because I’ve had to correct misprinted data in the past!) But this method of information-gathering is reactive—you’re waiting to find out due dates and other information until you get a bill or notice in the mail. Sometimes it’s best to take a more proactive approach with one of the two resource categories listed below.
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Your Assessor’s/Collector’s Website(s)
After your own tax documentation, your assessor’s or collector’s website is the second-best information source. It’s essentially a warehouse of property tax information in the context of one specific county, township, or whatever other term your tax district is referred to as. You will need to visit the assessor’s website for assessment information and the collector’s website for tax bill information. (They are different entities!) A phone call to the jurisdiction’s office works just as well, if you’d rather ask questions directly.
Searching for assessor websites
Even though we’re all familiar with the concept of searching the web, in the case of property tax, it isn’t always as easy as expected to find what you need.
The language for property tax terms varies widely across jurisdictions. Examples:
In Virginia, assessors are referred to as commissioners of revenue; in Texas they’re called appraisal districts.
In Texas, properties are referred to by account number; in Tennessee it’s a map number; and in Florida it’s a folio number.
So this simple search...
[property address] assessor
...may or may not get you to the assessor’s website. And even if it does, you may have difficulty looking up your property on that site unless you know the term to use to look for it. So it’s important to learn as much as you can about the nuances of your county’s property tax language before you search, to save time (and reduce frustration!).
Property Tax Information Aggregators
If you’re looking for general information, an aggregator might be able to help. Some companies make it their primary business to track down jurisdiction data, verify it, then sell it to interested parties in various formats. If you have multiple properties, it could save you from having to piece it all together. (Note that you’ll still probably have plenty of gaps to fill in once you get your hands on this information.)
Examples of property tax information aggregators include:
- NETROnline (website)—Choosing a state on the homepage map takes you to a list of towns, and then a list of county offices that includes a web link and phone information for the tax assessor’s office.
- U.S. Master Property Tax Guide (book)—Published by CCH, a leading provider of tax information, software, and services, this reference book is updated annually. In addition to property tax due dates and key contacts in various taxing jurisdictions, it also includes information on property tax and valuation assessment methods by jurisdiction (and a whole lot more).
- Taxography (data as a service)—Subscribers to this property tax database get current assessor contact information, tax rates, and jurisdiction boundaries.
- TaxNetUSA (data as a service)—Users can search the database by owner, address, or property ID for current information.
- CoreLogic (data as a service)—Another database of property tax information.
And if you’re just searching for general tax-related information, check out the websites for Tax Foundation and Tax Notes. These nonprofit sites are filled with articles related to federal and state taxes and tax law. If you’re interested in becoming more knowledgeable about business property taxes, these are good sites to bookmark.
Still can’t find the information you need? Ask us.
Or, you may be interested in property tax software that can dramatically reduce your information-gathering burden—and help process your taxes at the same time. Our extensive database contains the most up-to-date mailing addresses, deadlines, depreciation tables and more from over 20,000 assessing and collecting jurisdictions. Take a look at our website to find out more about how CrowdReason Property Tax Software not only reduces time spent researching, but also gives you the ability to manage your property taxes more effectively.
Good luck with your search!