Unlocking the Property Tax Records Glossary: Understanding the Language of Taxation

Property taxation and assessment can be a labyrinth of complex terms and jargon. To empower you with a better understanding of property tax records, assessments, and appraisals, we present a comprehensive glossary below:


Abatement: A reduction in taxes granted to those eligible for statutory tax relief programs, including circuit breaker, indigent, blind, or veteran exemptions. Application for tax relief may be required annually.


Appraisal: The process of forming an opinion of a property's value. It involves extensive research, data assembly, analytical techniques, and the application of knowledge and professional judgment to resolve appraisal challenges.

Parcel Number

Parcel Number: A unique identifier assigned to each piece of real property within a county. It is crucial for Board of Equalization appeals and typically consists of 14 digits separated by dashes (e.g., 36-18-480-003-0000).

Personal Property

Personal Property: Tangible assets distinct from real estate and not attached to land. Determining factors include movability without damaging real estate. Examples encompass furniture, appliances not integrated into structures, gasoline station equipment, manufacturing machinery, and most types of vehicles.

Property Tax

Property Tax: An ad valorem tax based solely on property value. It funds local government services like police, fire protection, schools, roads, libraries, and the judicial system.

Tax Relief

Tax Relief: Reductions in taxes granted to individuals with low incomes who are legally blind, disabled veterans, or facing extreme financial hardship. Eligibility criteria are set by state law and county policies, typically requiring annual filing, often administered by the treasurer or assessor.

Tax Rep

Tax Rep: A tax representative who represents another taxpayer before the Board of Equalization and is registered with the Auditor.

Taxable Value

Taxable Value: The fair market value minus applicable reductions for exemptions. Property taxes are calculated by multiplying the taxable value by the tax rate.

Truth in Taxation Notice

Truth in Taxation Notice: Also called the Valuation Notice or Notice of Property Valuation and Tax Change, it provides an estimate of taxes due for the current year compared to the previous year. The Auditor mails this notice and it shows the Assessor's valuation.

Vacancy and Collection Loss

Vacancy and Collection Loss: Deductions in income allowed for potential gross income reductions due to vacancies, tenant turnover, and unpaid rent or other income. It can result from physical vacancies or collection losses due to concessions or tenant defaults.

Year Built

Year Built: The date when real property improvements were placed into service or when construction of improvements was completed.

Understanding Property Taxation

Property taxation is mandated by state laws, with all property subject to taxation unless explicitly exempt. Property tax revenues fund vital local services, including law enforcement, fire protection, education, and recreation.

Property tax assessments determine the tax amount by assessing land and improvement values. It's essential to note that improvements encompass assessable structures on the land and not necessarily recent property enhancements.

Certain properties owned and used by educational, charitable, religious, or government organizations may qualify for exemptions.

The Role of the Assessor

The Assessor's office plays a critical role in property taxation with four primary responsibilities:

Locating Taxable Property: Identifying all taxable properties and tracking ownership changes.

Establishing Tax Values: Determining fair market property values based on market analysis and data collection.

Assessment Roll: Compiling an assessment roll that displays assessed property values.

Applying Legal Exemptions: Applying legally recognized exemptions to reduce taxable values.

The Assessor's primary responsibility is to find the fair market value of properties, not to set tax amounts. Revaluation is part of a process that influences final tax amounts.

The Assessor also maintains parcel boundary maps, property descriptions, and analyzes market trends to estimate assessable property values.

County Tax Assessor-Collector

The county tax assessor-collector, often elected for a four-year term, is responsible for property assessment and ad valorem tax collection. Although some counties have central appraisal districts determining taxable property values, the county tax assessor-collector may lead these districts. Duties may extend to voter registration, liquor and licensing, sales tax collection on automobiles, and vehicle registration and title transfer fee collection.

The Treasurer and Tax Collector handle secured and unsecured taxes, with secured taxes covering real property like land and structures and unsecured taxes encompassing assessments such as office equipment and vehicles.

By familiarizing yourself with these property tax terms, you can navigate the complex world of property taxation and make more informed decisions related to your property or financial situation.