The History of Property Tax

Paying property taxes is the responsibility of millions of homeowners and commercial property owners across the country. For many first-time homeowners, the concept of paying property taxes may seem simple at first glance, but it’s a little more complicated once the bill comes in the mail. Understanding the history and purpose of property taxes can help you understand your rights as a property owner and when it may be appropriate to file a protest regarding your property valuation.

England: The Beginning of Property Taxes

Property taxes in the United States have a lot in common with property taxes that were collected in England many centuries ago. The famous story of “Robin Hood” and the angry taxation habits of the Sheriff of Nottingham are etched into mythology.  When settlers came to the United States and began creating the colonies, the brought their history of property taxes across the Atlantic. Property taxes evolved over many centuries to become the taxes we know and pay today.

The First Property Taxes in the United States

The first property taxes in the Americas were paid during Colonial times, but it wouldn’t be until the nineteenth century that the taxes evolved into the type we pay today. In the Colonial Era, most states taxed property while just a few states went further to tax inventory and stock. There were no national or common standards for calculating taxes, so each state had a different calculation and method.

When the 1800s rolled around, the methods used by the states started to merge and become similar to one another. Property taxes became so important for most states that many began enshrining property taxes into their state constitutions. Additionally, most states began basing their tax amounts on the value of the property rather than a property owner’s quantity of it.

Property Taxes Before the World Wars

The importance of property taxes ebbed and flowed during and immediately after the two World Wars and saw drastic changes during the Great Depression when property tax revenue fell significantly nationwide. The government decided to exempt returning World War II veterans from having to pay property tax after the war in an effort to ensure veterans could acclimate into society without significant financial investment.

Modern Property Taxes in the United States

Property taxes are one of the most effective methods local governments have for earning revenue for all sorts of public needs like police officers, firefighters, and teachers, as well as the property and equipment required for those public services. The purpose of property taxes remains fairly consistent with their purpose in the Colonial Era: property taxes pay for government services.

However, one of the interesting and most important changes to property taxes over the past few hundred years has been the introduction of laws designed to ensure property taxes aren’t unmanageable for the average property owner. In the past, drastic increases to property taxes often meant a property owner had to vacate his land because of an inability to pay the increased amount of taxes.

Receive Assistance for Your Property Tax Issues

Do you have questions about your Texas property taxes? Do you believe your property appraisal is incorrect? Contact the property tax consultants and property tax attorneys of Hegwood Group today for information on how we can answer your questions and ensure you know your rights under the law regarding your Texas property taxes.

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