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Elkhart County cities see property taxes rise, rural areas see them fall

I am a business owner in Indiana, I have clients in Elkhart county.  It is nice to hear good news about Elkhart county.  The article contains good news and bad news.  The good news, people who live in unincorporated towns, are going to see a property tax decrease.  Some folks will receive bad news, their property taxes maybe going up.

GOSHEN — Some bad news for homeowners living in a city or town here — your 2009 property tax bills are on track to bump up compared to last year.

Not so bad is the news for homeowners in the unincorporated sections of Elkhart County, where about half the 200,000 or so residents here live. You’re likely to see your property tax burden dip.

Tax rates for 2009 are in and property owners should soon get their final property tax bills for the year, reflecting the property tax needs of the county, the cities, the libraries and other taxing entities here. To be sure, the change in the total each property owner owes compared to last year will vary widely in real-life scenarios. A bit more on that further down.

But we crunched the numbers, drawing a few broad conclusions. Here’s what we found, using the hypothetical case of an owner of a home valued at $100,000 last year and this year who’s entitled only to a homestead deduction:

* Tax bills for those living in the unincorporated sections of the county’s 16 townships appear on track to fall compared to 2008. The decline is largest, 11.4 percent, in the rural corners of Elkhart Township around Goshen. There the bill on a $100,000 home dips from $674.58 to $597.56.

* By contrast, those living in Elkhart, Goshen, Nappanee, Wakarusa, Middlebury, Bristol and Millersburg — the county’s seven incorporated communities — could see their bills go up. City or town property taxes apply in the locales, hence the difference compared to those living in unincorporated areas.

* Hardest hit are homewners in the city of Elkhart. In the Cleveland Township section of the city — north of the St. Joseph River and west of S.R. 19 — the bill in our hypothetical case jumps jump 21.2 percent, from $820.93 to $994.82. Trailing close behind are the estimated increases in the Concord and Osolo township sections of Elkhart, 21.1 percent and 20.3 percent, respectively.

* The city of Elkhart is the most expensive place to live in the county in terms of property taxes. Depending on the section, the 2009 bill of our imagined homeowner ranges from $982.52 to $1,067.89 in the city. Next is Nappanee, where the range is $957.35 to $964.68, and Goshen, $906.62 to $959.53.

* Property taxes are lowest in unincorporated Washington Township around Bristol, $523.95 in our example.

* By and large, the percent changes in tax bills across Elkhart County — up or down — stay the same in individual taxing districts, regardless of a home’s value. That assumes that the value of the home — whether $100,000, say, or $150,000 — doesn’t budge from 2008 to 2009 and that the only applicable break is the homestead deduction.

* Different formulas apply in calculating tax bills for homes valued at less than $90,000 and more than $600,000, thus the aforementioned observation doesn’t hold in those cases. Bills on homes valued at $75,000, for instance, decline in every county taxing district between 2008 and 2009 in our example.

* Though changes from 2008 to 2009 are a mixed bag, the 2009 bill of our hypothetical homeowner is still much lower than in 2007 in all corners of Elkhart County, whether a city or unincorporated area. The downward shift reflects changes implemented by state lawmakers starting in 2008 to reduce the property tax burden on homeowners. The biggest dip — 41.6 percent, or $1,046.21 in 2007 to $610.93 — is in unincorporated Baugo Township. The smallest dip — 18.6 percent, or $1,022.23 in 2007 to $832.08 — is in Middlebury.

The article’s author does not address collections.  What I am curious about, delinquencies.  How is the county doing collecting the money owed?  Elkhart county has been devastated by unemployment.  I hope the county has a plan to deal with collections.  I am pretty sure the county does not want mass tax lien sales.

If you find yourself falling behind on your tax obligations, contact my office.  We can help, we have strategies to deal with your tax obligations.  Whether you have unfiled returns, or you just cannot pay, we can help.

The time to settle your tax debt is now.  Settle your tax problems when you are in your worst financial condition.  Do not wait until you have some money, the taxing authority will want that money.  Settle your debt when you have nothing.  Call now 1-877-489-8999, to start getting your tax problems resolved.

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