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What Are Property Tax Records?

Property tax records are documents maintained by the taxing authority of any county. In most states, counties are responsible for collecting taxes and maintaining tax records. In some states, cities do this as well. In others, it is not collected at all. Any taxing authority that has the right and ability to collect taxes from property owners, often based on the value of the home or a flat fee per household, will create and maintain property tax records for that location. These do not often follow the individual unless delinquent but rather are based on the real estate itself.

Property tax records contain detailed information. In most cases, these will contain information about the real estate itself, including the physical location, zoning information and other identifying information about the property itself. In some cases, the property records will contain a description of the home. In those districts where property tax is based on the assessed value of the home, the property tax records will also contain information about the assessed value of the home, including the current value and any past value from a previous appraisal. This information is not based on the sale’s value of the home, but on the auditor’s current appraisal done solely for tax purposes.

Property tax records also contain information about the ownership of the property. They contain information including the property owner’s name, including both spouses if owned jointly. It also includes information about the owner’s address, if different from the property location. The property tax records document the payment of taxes including when payment is made, if it is late, if there are delinquent fees as well as how much the tax is required. How often it is paid as well as what the millage or payment requirements are based on tax laws in that area.

The access to property tax records is usually open to the public. These records are provided through a database. Most local government organizations will maintain the records, but online databases may or may not contain the most up to date information. It is also possible to use these records through a database search through other tools. The gathering of this information is often easy to do since most states do keep it open to the public. Some states or local agencies may require individuals to provide a reason for accessing the information. Most do not make this a requirement.

Property tax records can also include information about past owners of the property. If there are tax liens on the property or the ownership is split among numerous lenders, this may also be included. The company holding a mortgage on the property is also included in this documentation in most cases. Information related to the payment of the tax records, such as how the payment was made, is not public access. However, information about if the tax was paid, how much was paid and when, is a part of public record in most cases. This information can answer questions about the legal ownership of a piece of property.

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