With Bills Arriving Some Wonder, “Why Are My Property Taxes So High?”

As property tax bills arrive this month, Wisconsinites are often left wondering, “Why is my
bill so high?” A new report from the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance (WISTAX), “Investigating Residential Property Taxes” answers this and other property tax-related questions.

Taxpayers are also often puzzled why their property taxes have increased more than the “average” or “median-valued” home in their community, or why their taxes increased more than their neighbors’. The report explains several factors at work.

First, averages tend to mask variations among communities and between individual properties. Some local governments may levy more than others, which means both total tax collections and taxes on individual properties will be higher.

Shifting values also have an impact. If the value of an individual property rises more than other properties in a community, a homeowner may end up paying a larger share of the total tax “pie.” Similarly, if the total value of one municipality in a county or school district rises while other values decline, residents of that municipality may also be responsible for a bigger share of the total county or school district collections.