Property tax

A property tax or millage rate[1] is an ad valorem tax on the value of a property, usually levied on real estate. The tax is levied by the governing authority of the jurisdiction in which the property is located. This can be a national government, a federated state, a county or geographical region or a municipality. Multiple jurisdictions may tax the same property. This tax can be contrasted to a rent tax which is based on rental income or imputed rent, and a land value tax, which is a levy on the value of land, excluding the value of buildings and other improvements.

Under a property-tax system, the government requires or performs an appraisal of the monetary value of each property, and tax is assessed in proportion to that value.


The four broad types of property taxes are land, improvements to land (immovable man-made objects, such as buildings), personal property (movable man-made objects) and intangible property. Real property (also called real estate or realty) is the combination of land and improvements.

Forms of property tax vary across jurisdictions. Real property is often taxed based on its class. Classification is the grouping of properties based on similar use. Properties in different classes are taxed at different rates. Examples of property classes are residential, commercial, industrial and vacant real property.[2] In Israel, for example, property tax rates are double for vacant apartments versus occupied apartments.[3]

A special assessment tax is sometimes confused with property tax. These are two distinct forms of taxation: one (ad valorem tax) relies upon the fair market value of the property. The other (special assessment) relies upon a special enhancement called a "benefit" for its justification.

The property tax rate is typically given as a percentage. It may be expressed as a per mil (amount of tax per thousand currency units of property value), which is also known as a millage rate or mill (one-thousandth of a currency unit). To calculate the property tax, the authority multiplies the assessed value by the mill rate and then divides by 1,000. For example, a property with an assessed value of $50,000 located in a municipality with a mill rate of 20 mills would have a property tax bill of $1,000 per year.[4]


Property classes, tax rates, assessment rules and valuations vary by jurisdiction.


Australian property is taxed at both the state and council (local municipal) level. Taxes are payable by property owners - there is no property tax charged to renters.

A state tax commonly called "stamp duty" is assessed when property is purchased or transferred. It is typically around 5% of the purchase price, payable by the purchaser. Other transfer charges may also apply, including special fees for investors from overseas.[5]

"Land tax" - also a state tax - is assessed every year on a property's value. Most Australians do not pay land tax, as most states provide a land tax exemption for the primary home or residence. Depending on the state, surcharge tax rates can apply to foreign owners.[6]

"Council rates" is a municipal tax levied by local government. This is assessed each year on a property's value. Council rates are around $1300 per annum for an average Australian household.[7]


Brazil is a Federation Republic, and its federated entities (internal States and Municipalities), as well as the Federal government, levy property taxes. They are all declared in the Federal Constitution.

These are the current property taxes:

  • Tax on Rural Territorial Property – federal: levied upon real state property on rural areas;
  • Tax on Urban Territorial Property – municipal: levied upon real state property on urban areas;
  • Tax on Motorized Vehicles Property – state: levied upon the property of cars, trucks, motorcycles, and the likes;
  • Tax on Big Fortunes – federal: it is declared on the Federal Constitution, but there is still no regulation defining its incidence.


Many provinces levy property tax on real estate based upon land use and value. This is the major source of revenue for most municipal governments. While property tax levels vary across municipalities, a common property assessment or valuation criteria is laid out in provincial legislation. The trend is to use a market value standard for valuation purposes with varying revaluation cycles. Multiple provinces established an annual reassessment cycle where market activity warrants, while others have longer periods between valuation periods.

Calculating Individual Property Taxes

In Ontario, for most properties (e.g., residential, farms), property taxes can be calculated by multiplying the phased-in assessment indicated on the Property Assessment Notice by the tax rate. In most cases the property assessment is lower than the real market value of the properties. A 2019 study [8] showed that Toronto, the capital of Ontario, has the lowest property tax in the province.

The municipal tax rate x phased-in assessment for the particular taxation year = municipal portion of tax.

The county/regional tax rate x phased-in assessment for the particular taxation year = county/regional portion of tax.

The education tax rate x phased-in assessment for the particular taxation year = education portion of tax.

The municipal portion of tax + county/regional portion of tax + education portion of tax = Total Property Tax.

In some cases (e.g., commercial, industrial, multi-residential properties), the Province or municipality may implement measures that affect the actual taxes paid on a property.

Land Transfer Tax

Land transfer tax is a provincial tax levied when purchasing a home or land in Canada. All provinces have a land transfer tax, except Alberta and Saskatchewan. In most provinces the tax is calculated as a percentage of the purchase price. In Toronto there is an additional municipal tax.

Ontario, British Columbia, Prince Edward Island and the City of Toronto offer land transfer tax rebates for first-time homebuyers. [9]

British Columbia

In British Columbia the property transfer tax is equal to one percent tax on the first $200,000 of the purchase price, two percent on the remaining amount up to $2 million and three percent on the rest.[10] An additional 15% tax that applies only to non-resident foreign home buyers in Greater Vancouver started on August 2, 2016. The definition of foreign buyer includes international students and temporary foreign workers. Anti-avoidance measures include fines of $100,000 for individuals and $200,000 for corporations.[11]

First time home buyers program

The First Time Home Buyers Program is a program by the BC government that offers qualifying first-time homebuyers a reduction or elimination of the property transfer tax. It can be used in conjunction with the B.C. Home Owner Mortgage and Equity Partnership.[12]

The First Time Home Buyers Tax Credit is also available in Ontario, which offers First Time Home Buyers a 750 dollar tax Rebate. In 2017 the Ontario Government also released the Land Transfer Tax Rebate, which allowed for up to 4,000 dollar rebate - ensuring that first time home buyers of homes valued under 368,000 dollars would not pay land transfer tax.[13]

New home exemption

The Newly Built Home Exemption is a program that reduces or eliminates the property transfer tax on new homes. The amount is limited to $13,000 for qualifying individuals who must be either a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident. The property purchased must be located in British Columbia, have a fair market value of $750,000, be smaller than 1.25 acres and be used as a principle residence. It can be used in conjunction with the B.C. Home Owner Mortgage and Equity Partnership.[14]


The land property tax, called "territorial tax" or "contribution", is an annual amount paid quarterly by the property's owner. It is determined as a percentage of the property's "fiscal value", which is calculated by the Internal Revenue Service, based on the property's land and built area, construction materials, age, and use. The fiscal value, which is usually much lower than the market value, may be disputed by the owner. The annual levy varies between 1 and 2% of this value, depending on the property's use (residential, agricultural or commercial). Residential properties valued below US$40K (as of 2013) are not taxed; those above that threshold are taxed only on the amount exceeding US$40K.[15] Revenues go to the municipality administering the property's commune.[16] All municipalities contribute a share of the revenue to a "common municipal fund" that is then redistributed back to municipalities according to a their needs (commune's poverty rate, etc.).[17][18] Additionally, municipalities charge a quarterly trash collection tax, which is often paid together with the territorial tax (if applicable).


The law imposes a tax on each property. Public buildings are excluded (such as government buildings), as are religious buildings (mosques and churches). Families owning private properties worth up to LE 2 million ($290,000) are exempt. commercial stores with an annual rent value over LE 1,200 are not exempt.[19]


Greece has a Municipal and a Government property tax. The municipal property tax (ΤΑΠ/ΔΤ/ΔΦ) is included in electricity bills and incorporates, among others, charges for street cleaning and lighting. The Government property tax (ENFIA) is a combination of the individual asset's tax based upon floor-area and a progressive real-estate wealth tax per individual which is based on the estimated net-worth of all properties and can reach 2%.

Hong Kong

In Hong Kong, the "property tax" is not an ad valorem tax; it is actually an income tax.

According to HK Inland Revenue Ordinance IRO s5B, all property owners are not subject to this tax unless they received a consideration, like rental income for the year of assessment. The property tax is computed on the net assessable value at the standard rate. The period of assessment is from 1 April to 31 March.

Net assessable value

The formula is:

Net assessable value = 80% of Assessable value.
HK property tax payable = Net assessment value X Property tax standard rate
Assessable value = Rental income + Premium + (Rental bad debt recovered — Irrecoverable rent) – Rates paid by owner.


Property taxes are levied by either state government or local civic bodies. Property tax or 'house tax' is a local tax on buildings, along with appurtenant land. It is imposed on the Possessor (not the custodian of property as per 1978, 44th amendment of the constitution). It resembles the US-type wealth tax and differs from the excise-type UK rate. The tax power is vested in the states and is delegated to local bodies, specifying the valuation method, rate band, and collection procedures. The tax base is the annual rental value (ARV) or area-based rating. Owner-occupied and other properties not producing rent are assessed on cost and then converted into ARV by applying a percentage of cost, usually four percent. Most big city municipals have tax on vacant lands, and other smaller cities and rural areas don't have any property tax on vacant lands. In most cases, civic bodies have taxes exempted on all the buildings and lands used for religious worship by the public, public burial & cremation grounds, or heritage lands, charitable and educational purposes and on few agricultural land. Other than that, Central government properties are exempt. Instead a 'service charge' is permissible under executive order. Properties of foreign missions also enjoy tax exemption without requiring reciprocity. The tax is usually accompanied by service taxes, e.g., water tax, drainage tax, conservancy (sanitation) tax, lighting tax, all using the same tax base. The rate structure is flat on rural (panchayat) properties, but in the urban (municipal) areas it is mildly progressive with about 80% of assessments falling in the first two brackets.[20]

An exemplary detail of local civic bodies of respective cities.

serial cities Muncipal Body Tax on Vacant Land Tax Reference
1 Mumbai Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) yes
2 Delhi Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) yes
3 Bangalore Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) yes
4 Hyderabad Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) yes
5 Ahmedabad Ahmedabad Muncipal Corporation (AMC)
6 Chennai Greater Chennai Corporation ( GCC) yes
7 Kolkata Kolkata Municipal Corporation yes
8 Surat Surat Municipal Corporation
9 Pune Pune Municipal Corporation Only on Carpet Area of Vacant Land/property
10 Jaipur Jaipur Municipal Corporation


A Local Property Tax came into effect in Republic of Ireland on 1 July 2013, and is collected by the Revenue Commissioners. The tax is on residential properties. The property owner is liable (though in the case of leases over twenty years, the tenant is liable). The revenue funds the provision of services by local authorities. Such services currently include public parks, libraries, open spaces and leisure amenities, planning and development, fire and emergency services, maintenance and street cleaning and lighting.

The tax is based upon market value, taxed via a system of market bands. The initial national central rate of the tax is 0.18% of a property's value up to €1 million. Properties valued over €1 million are assessed 0.25% on the excess. From 1 January 2015, local authorities are able to vary LPT rates -/+ 15% of the national central rate.

In the case of properties valued over €1 million, no banding applies – 0.18% is charged on the first €1 million (€1,800) and 0.25% on the balance. The government estimates that 85% to 90% of all properties fall within the first five taxation bands.[21][22]


This tax is paid annually and is based on a percentage of the unimproved value of a property.


The tax period for a property tax is a calendar year. Property tax rate ranging from 0.3% to 1% the tax value of real estate is determined by the municipality.

Since January 1, 2015 if the person's property value is higher than 220,000 euros, 0.5 per cent of property tax is applied for exceeding amount.


Property tax in Luxembourg is calculated on the basis of the property's "unitary value" determined by tax authorities and levied by the communes. The tax is calculated as property unitary value * assessment rate * communal rate. The assessment rate is determined by the legislator and generally ranges from 0.7% to 1%. The communal rate is set by the communal authority and varies from 120% to 900% depending on the municipality.

Luxembourg has minimal property taxes compared to its neighbours in Benelux or in the European Union. It amounts to more or less €150 for a €500 000 apartment in Luxembourg City.[23][24]

Czech Republic

There are two types of property tax in the Czech Republic: tax on estate and tax on real estate.[25]

The subjects of the tax on estate are all estates in the legislation of the Czech Republic except from particular exceptions: estates which are covered by taxed real estates (these estates are not taxed only on that part where the real estate is located), forests, body of water, estates with the goal of defence the country.[26] The payer of the tax is the owner on this particular estate. There are different types of taxes on estate depending on its purpose(fields have lower coefficient than estates denoted for industry).There is a difference in the tax on building sites. Building sides with no real estate on it have constant coefficient 2 Kč for 1 metre squared whereas buildings sites with real property (those part of the building sites which are not covered by that particular real property) are taxed according to number of citizens and location of particular village/town/city.[27]

The subjects of the tax on real estate are all buildings and accommodation units in the legislation of the Czech Republic apart from those buildings composed of accommodation units that are already taxed(block of flats,...). The payer is again the owner of the real estate. The tax base from buildings and accommodations units is the area of the built-up surface.[28]

Facts for both taxes:

1) All earnings stemming from property tax (paid by payers of taxes) in particular village/town/city goes via tax office back to that particular village/town/city[29]

2) Every village/town/city has an authorization for adjusting its coefficient on property tax (they are 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 - which means how many times the originally assessed tax will be multiplied)[30]

3) Tax year is the calendar year[31]

4) Tax return must be handed by the end of January of the tax year. If payer did it in the previous tax year and circumstances of taxes did not change, then the payer does not have to hand tax return and the tax is assessed automatically by the relevant authority[32]

5) Tax is in two exactly the same repayments by the end of May and November respectively. (As far as normal non businesses are concerned)[33]

Important notion: There is a difference between the person who pays tax physically and the person holds the tax burden. In this type of tax in the Czech Republic it is always the same person, that is why it is omitted.


Property tax (Dutch: Onroerendezaakbelasting (OZB)) is levied on property on a municipal basis. Only the owners of residential property and people who rent/own commercial space are taxed. People who rent a home do not pay property tax. Municipalities combine their property taxes with a tax for garbage collection and for the sewer system. Owners and users of property and land also pay taxes based on the value of property to the water boards for flood protection and water and wastewater treatment ("waterschapsbelasting"). A percentage of the value of a house ("huurwaardeforfait") is added to the income of the owner, so the owner of a house pays more income tax. All property-related taxes are based on the value of the house estimated by the municipality.

United Kingdom

In the UK the ownership of residential property or land is not taxed, a situation almost unique in the OECD.[34][35][36] Instead, the Council Tax is usually paid by the resident of a property, and only in the case of unoccupied property does the owner become liable to pay it (although owners can often obtain a discount or an exemption for empty properties).[37]

Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) guidelines state:

"Council Tax is a tax on property. In principle it may be an allowable deduction in those instances where other property-based expenses are deductible."[38]

The Valuation Tribunal Service states that:

"The tax is a mix of a property tax and a personal tax. Generally, where two or more persons reside in a dwelling the full tax is payable. If one person resides in the dwelling then 75% is payable. An empty dwelling attracts only a 50% charge unless the billing authority has made a determination otherwise."[39]

There have been a lot of property tax changes since the introduction of the 2015/16 budget. Changes to Section 24 mortgage interest relief, removal of the 10% wear & tear allowance, and the maintenance of high rates of Capital Gains Tax (CGT). These changes have resulted in UK landlords paying a lot more tax than previously.

The Council Tax depends on the value of the property, but is not calculated as a simple percentage. Instead, the property is allocated to a Council Tax band, (9 in England and 8 in Scotland and Wales). Valuation is carried out by the Valuation Office Agency under the auspices of Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC).[40][41]

Additionally, when purchasing a property, the UK government levies "Stamp Duty Land Tax|" (SDLT, commonly known as just 'stamp duty') on homes over the value of £125,000. The Stamp Duty payable is referenced to the price of the house, splitting the levies due into percentages of the value increments of the house. Stamp Duty is eliminated on properties £300,000 or under for first-time buyers, and if the value of the property for a first-time buyer exceeds this, they pay a percentage of the amount that is over the £300,000 maximum value.

United States

In the United States, property tax on real estate is usually levied by the local government. The national government levies no real estate tax, nor property tax. State governments levy 3% of the total property tax collected. The other 97% is collected by counties, municipalities, schools, community colleges, and many other special-purpose governmental agencies, e.g. libraries, museums, parks, bridge authorities.[42] Rates vary across the states, between about 0% and 4% of the home value.[43] The assessment is made up of two components—the improvement or building value and the land or site value. The property tax is the main tax supporting local: education, police, fire protection, government, roads, and most infrastructure, e.g. sewers, bridges, street lights. Many state and local jurisdictions add personal property taxes. (See exceptions below.)

History of property tax

Taxation has existed since the existence of civilization. Originally before the presence of monetary system, taxes were mostly paid as a percentage of crops raised. Later, the property tax of ancient world, parts of medieval Europe and American colonies was rather based on the area of the property rather than on its value. Finally, the property's gross output (e.g. annual income) were used used as the base of taxation.[44]

Ancient Times

The first ever tax records, dating from about six thousand years B.C., were in the form of soil tablets which were found in city-state of Lagash (Now in the territory of current Iraq). The system was called bala (rotation). It was such that each month one particular area of city was taxed, which allowed to make such arduous task less difficult. In Ancient Egypt the taxes were levied against the value of grain, cattle, oil, beer and also land. By that time only one person out of 100 were literate. Some of these people were tax assessors. They kept records about owners of land along with its size. They collected annual data by calculating cattle and checking the crop yields. If the taxpayer was not able to pay the tax, he was brought before the court. Tax assessors were highly respected people due to their ability and skills.[45]

Medieval Times

In England in the 11th century the taxes on land were paid by peasants who rented that land from its owner. The more productive the land was the higher the rent was. During the 1170s, William the Conqueror established an early form of land taxation. It was common that cities kept records of the owner of the property. Each parcel was measured and estimated. Later, after 1215, King John was limited in his power to raise revenue, so from this point taxes could be collected only with permission of his barons. After 1290 normal people started paying this type of tax based on the location of the property (higher for those in cities and lower for rural residents) In 16th century even the King's own land was also taxed. The King's power of taxation became even weaker right after 1689 when the new law was introduced meaning that he could not tax without Parliament's permission.[46]

Pre-modern USA

In the USA, the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth and started building their city in 1620. After threats from locals they built a fort. Pilgrims formed a pact to protect themselves and also set laws including taxation and assessments. All people were allocated equal proportion of land from which they had to pay tax.[47]

In Boston, a property tax was implemented by Puritans for paying the expenses of church and religious education. Every person paid this property tax regardless of one's religion. This particular system lasted for more than one hundred years. The assessor of the tax was the sheriff. The system of evidence was similar to England (the assessors kept records of personal estate). The situation of the citizen was taken into account as far as the property tax was concerned – meaning that a widow with children was not only forgiven property tax but also was guaranteed to receive a certain amount of money monthly. On the other hand, people who destroyed public property had to pay the cost of repairs with property tax.[48]

After establishing the USA in 1776, taxes were raised in most regions (mostly through property). Later, the central Government found out that this system did not work as far more was spent than received from this measure. At the end of the 18th century, there was a dispute between Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson. The camp of Hamilton was for raising taxes (mainly property tax) centrally in order to increase the capacity of budget (also power) of the Government. The camp of Jefferson was for raising revenue locally as it “sounded“ more like a concept of democracy. Hamilton had a strong head for finance; he helped to establish the capitalist system that exists today. However, the financial strategy mentioned above (high property tax) was a disaster for him.[49] Higher taxes (especially property) was finally established during the concerns whether the war with France would happen or not. National property tax was enacted by Congress apportioned by population. There were many protests until the tax was finally repealed. On the other hand, the trend of raising the local property tax continued as local governments were able to raise their revenue by this measure.

First half of 20th century

At the beginning of the 20th century it was found out that the tax system in US could not equitably tax the complicated economy. Many reforms were implemented (trying to reduce reliance on property taxes). The most important one was concerned with new narrow personal property tax was established especially for homeowners and intangible assets. A lot US presidents tried to push for lower property tax and for the implementation of income tax. By the time of the Great Depression, the property tax collection rates dropped as people's income decreased steeply. The Governments mostly cut property tax and implemented sales taxes. After the Great Depression, many movements were formed for addressing claims on the Government with real tax reforms, many of these were approved and has been in go since then.[50]

Places without property tax




United States

In Alaska, "...only a small portion of the land mass is subject to a property tax. ...only 24 municipalities in Alaska (either cities or boroughs) levy a property tax." However, the vast majority of revenue for local governments comes from property taxes.[57] There is no tax on the private land in American Samoa, the Territory of Palmyra Island or Kingman Reef in the Pacific Ocean insular areas.[58]

See also


  1. "Millage Rate" at Investopedia.
  2. "Real Property Tax Rates – otr".
  3. Bousso, Nimrod (20 May 2013). "Interior Minister Approves Doubling Property Taxes on Vacant Israeli Apartments" via Haaretz.
  4. "Connecticut Office of Policy Management: Mill Rates". Retrieved 4 October 2010.
  5. Office, Australian Taxation. "State and territory taxes". Retrieved 8 January 2018.
  6. content_publisher (23 November 2016). "Land tax surcharge". Retrieved 8 January 2018.
  7. Australia, Local Government Association of South. "Council Rates". Retrieved 8 January 2018.
  8. Toronto has the lowest property tax in Ontario
  9. "Land Transfer Tax".
  10. "B.C. to hit foreign buyers of Metro Vancouver homes with 15% property tax".
  11. "Ontario considers following B.C. on taxing foreign real estate investors".
  12. "First Time Home Buyers' Program – Housing Action".
  13. "Land Transfer Tax Refunds for First-Time Homebuyers".
  14. "Newly Built Home Exemption – Housing Action".
  15. "DFL-1 16-DIC-1998 MINISTERIO DE HACIENDA – Ley Chile – Biblioteca del Congreso Nacional".
  16. "Preguntas Frecuentes de Bienes Raíces".
  18. "Egypt's amended property tax law to take effect in July: Finance ministry – Economy – Business – Ahram Online". Retrieved 27 January 2017.
  19. Datta, Abhijit. (1992). Local Government Finances: Trends, Issues and Reforms, in Bagchi, Amaresh. et al. (Eds.), State Finances in India, New Delhi: Vikas Publishing House for the NIPFP...
  20. Revenue Commissioners (Ireland) – Local Property Tax (LPT), Frequently Asked Questions (5 December 2012)
  21. Budget 2013 (Ireland) – ANNEX B – Local Property Tax (LPT) (5 December 2013)
  22. "Property Tax | Le Gouvernement du Grand Duché de Luxembourg". Retrieved 22 February 2016.
  23. "Luxembourg Tax Smart Card".!tax-smart-card/glc4v. Retrieved 22 February 2016.
  33. editor, Patrick Wintour Political (7 December 2015). "Labour has 'moral mission' to tackle inequality, says Tristram Hunt" via The Guardian.
  34. "Opinion".
  35. "The Real Hope for Home Ownership".
  36. "Council Tax – GOV.UK".
  37. "BIM46840 – Specific deductions: rent and rates: Council Tax". Retrieved 18 September 2015.
  38. "Council Tax Guidelines". Archived from the original on 3 October 2015.
  39. "Council Tax bands and rates | Westminster City Council". Retrieved 18 September 2015.
  40. "Council tax bands and rates – guide | Lambeth Council". Retrieved 18 September 2015.
  41. "State, Federal and Local Taxes" (PDF). National Conference of State Legislatures. p. 3.
  42. "The Tax Foundation — Property Taxes on Owner-Occupied Housing by State, 2004–2009". 2009. Retrieved 4 October 2010.
  43. Adams, Charles. Those Dirty Rotten Taxes. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster,1998
  44. By the history of Ancient world,
  45. History of taxation in United kingdom,
  46. A Brief History of Property Tax,
  47. A Brief History of Property Tax,
  48. The history of taxes in USA,
  49. A Brief History of Property Tax,
  50. "Wayback Machine" (PDF). 11 January 2014. Archived from the original (PDF) on 11 January 2014.
  51. eTax, Nordisk. "Faroe Islands".
  52. "British Expat Forum • View forum – Malta".
  53. "Palau (US department of State)".
  54. "A hidden paradise with no income tax or property tax… – Sovereign Man".
  55. "Why Invest in the Cook Islands – is it that good – really?".
  56. "Alaska Tax Facts". Alaska Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development: Office of the State Assessor. Retrieved 9 May 2017.
  57. "GAO/OGC-98-5 – U.S. Insular Areas: Application of the U.S. Constitution". U.S. Government Printing Office. 7 November 1997. Retrieved 9 May 2017.

Further reading

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