Around the State – Property Taxes Down; Values Up

17 Dec 2020, by Kristin Cundiff Share :

By Alan Dornfest, Property Tax Bureau Chief, Property Tax Division, Idaho State Tax Commission

Idaho property taxes totaled $1.931 billion for tax year 2020. This represented a decrease of $104.5 million or 5.1% in comparison to the amount levied in 2019. There were three causes of this decrease:

  1. $117.6 million reduction due to pass through of Governor’s Public Safety Grants Initiative (GPSGI) to taxpayers as tax relief. These moneys were accepted and passed through in this manner to taxpayers in 32 cities and 11 counties.
  2. Cities and counties accepting GPSGI moneys were required to constrain general property tax budget increases otherwise allowed (they could not take the usual 3% increase).
  3. Bond levies in the West Ada School District (the largest school district in the state) and school emergency fund levies in several districts were reduced significantly in 2020. In the case of emergency fund levies, school districts need enrollment increases to qualify and several previously qualifying districts did not meet the criteria in 2020.

Quantifying these decreases, cities had the greatest decrease at 12% (cities also accepted more of the GPSGI money than counties), while school district property taxes were down 5% and county property taxes were down 4.8%.  Aside from cities, counties, and school districts, the rate of increase in property tax budgets for special purpose taxing districts was nearly identical in 2019 and 2020 (5.3% and 5.2% respectively). 

This year’s property tax decrease is the first since 2006, when most school general (maintenance and operations) property taxes were eliminated.

In terms of taxable value, this year’s 9.5% overall increase is less than last year’s 14.3% increase and is similar to the increase from 2017 to 2018. Once again, value increases were concentrated in the residential sector, which saw values increase by 10.9% in 2020.

Our analysis of value trends in six major property categories, including both real and personal property components shows the following from 2019 – 2020. Values used are net of all exemptions. 

Major Property CategoryPercent of Taxable Value in Category in 2020Percent Change in Taxable Value 2019-2020
Commercial & Industrial22.2+6.7

Given this year’s value increase in conjunction with taxing district budget caps and the additional GPSGI tax relief provided and used by many cities and counties, tax rates across the state tended to decrease in 2020. Only three counties showed increases in average tax rates in 2020. In addition, statewide overall average tax rates dropped 13.5% this year, more than double the rate of decrease noted in 2019.

A more detailed report will examine property tax changes by category and provide more detail on taxing district budgets and the effects of the homeowner’s exemption. This report is expected to be completed in early January, at which time it will be available on the Tax Commission’s website or on request to the property tax division at the Commission.