Property tax primer

Published by Tim McNulty on .

Beatles, TaxmanNow that Mayor Luke Ravenstahl has proposed a 30 percent cut in the city's property tax rate -- in the wake of a 48% increase* in taxable values citywide -- here's a reminder on how to calculate tax bills using millage rates.

Every mill equals $1 in tax for every $1,000 in property value. Basically you take the decimal point on the millage rate and move it three spots over to the left, and multiply that number against your home value. The city's proposed new rate is 7.56 mills so your multiplier is going to be .00756.

Let's say your house is valued here at the Allegheny County assessment site at $222,000. Multiplied by .00756 the city taxes will be $1,678.32. (Homeowners may be able to take $15K off their value before multiplying the rate in the new "homestead exemption" break the mayor proposed. The current exemption is $10K. Low-income senior homeowners get an additional break.)

The current property tax rate is 10.8 mills. For argument's sake let's say pre-reassessment your home was valued 48% less at $150,000. The taxes would have been pretty close to the same at $1,620. This is why the mayor said his new rate is "revenue neutral," and why you could be seeing a cut in your tax bill if your home value was increased less than 48%.

Don't forget: if you're a homeowner in Pittsburgh (or anywhere else for that matter) you also have the privilege of paying county and school district property taxes too. The new Allegheny County millage rate is 4.73 mills and the city schools are looking at a rate of 9.33 to 9.48 mills.

You may not pay these directly. Some homeowners have the property tax bills sent home, but others have them issued to their mortgage holder and wrapped into those payments.

* Note: Officially city values went rose 48% from $13.6 to $20.2 billion. The mayor's office says when "existing tax reductions" are taken into account (perhaps appeals?) the new total taxable value is $16.9 billion, or an increase of 24%.

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