Owning property in Athens County requires dealing with the daunting task of deciphering just how much one has to pay in property taxes.
The first step to calculating the property tax for your land and residence involves knowing the appraisal value and the taxable value set on them. The appraised value is an evaluation of the property’s value at any given point in time; the taxable value is set by the state, which in Ohio is 35 percent of the appraised value. You only get taxed on the 35 percent.
Property owners must then factor in rollbacks for residential homes and agricultural property also need to factor in exemptions for things like energy incentives, renovations, veterans, seniors, the disabled and homesteads.
For example, a property owner in the City of Athens pays at a rate of 9.21 percent of the taxable value of a home before exemptions and reductions. In total they would pay about $1979.74 per $100,000 in appraised value.
In Athens County, residents pay anywhere between $1,695 and $2,389 per $100,000 of home value a year prior to deductions and exemptions.
This rate is calculated by the , which is the sum of rates at the county, township, school and municipal levels. There are 14 townships, 2 cities, 8 villages that make up the 36 different taxing districts in the county which also includes school districts.
After reductions for real estate, agricultural and residential properties, the rate drops to 5.65 percent. Reductions for commercial, industrial, public, utility and real property drops the rate to 5.70 percent. The rate drops even further when exemptions are applied.
Jill Thompson, the Athens County Auditor, said a lot of people don’t realize that the state is giving them a discount by taxing them on only 35 percent rather than taxing them on the entire property.
“The devil is in the details,” Thompson said. “What is concerning to me is that the rate is set annually at 35 percent and if that changes it would turn the tax system upside down.”
Property taxes are used by local government communities to fund education, road and highway construction, public servants, and other services that benefit residents at-large. The rates are set and often changed by laws and levies for schools and other public departments.
Since these taxes are used to pay for such a wide array of expenses, most everyone in the county benefits at some level from what they pay for, including students at OU.
“Property taxes affect student renters at OU as much as any other person,” Anirudh Ruhil, a professor of leadership and public affairs, said.
Ruhil said students often don’t know much about tax codes, how they are calculated and what they are used for. He said he finds that concerning.
With this data, one might think that local government isn’t getting a lot of revenue. The amount of taxable property in the county shrinks even more when you factor in the property owned by the government which are completely tax exempt.
Public property exemptions are especially prevalent in Athens County because three of the largest agencies include Wayne National Forest, Ohio University and Hocking College. Most of the revenue that the county receives is from agricultural and residential property, but 26 percent of the total taxable revenue ends up being exempt from the exemptions public property.
Students and others who pay rent often pay for these taxes indirectly. In most cases, landlords include property taxes in their calculations for rent or lease payments as they fluctuate year-to-year. This leads to students usually not knowing how much of their rent payment goes toward paying property taxes on the house.