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Percents as Decimals

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Taxing Properties
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Credit: Brian Shamblen
Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/23972840@N04/10130601114
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

How does your school get the money to pay teachers, keep the lights on, and heat the building? If you go to a public school, taxes pay for your education. In many states, property taxes go to support local schools, parks, libraries, and other services.

Taxes and Exemptions

A property owner pays taxes each year. The tax is a percentage of the property’s value. The landowner can figure out how much he’ll owe by multiplying a decimal by the value of his land. For instance, if the property tax is 1.3% and his land is worth $100,000, he can multiply 0.013 by 100,000 to find out what his tax bill will be.

Many areas offer exemptions to some property owners. For instance, when someone owns and occupies a home, she may receive a homestead exemption. This makes part of the value of her house tax-free. If her house is worth $100,000 and the homestead exemption is $60,000, she’ll only have to pay taxes on $40,000 of her property. Towns offer exemptions to encourage single-family homes. They also offer exemptions to veterans and the elderly. This prevents people from being forced out of their homes as property values rise.

Credit: Brett VA
Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/smart_growth/2283863217/
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

Property taxes can lead to inequality. Areas with many expensive homes can afford to build new schools, to pay teachers more, and to have better parks and libraries. Meanwhile, areas with less expensive homes and more residents who live in poverty have very little money for schools, parks and libraries. Some states are trying to find ways to divide property taxes more fairly between school districts.

See for yourself: http://thenotebook.org/blog/136540/argument-over-fair-funding-continues

Explore More

Use the links below to learn about current problems with and recent challenges to the way public schools are funded.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DfAbG_fVI4w

http://www.watertowndailytimes.com/article/20130930/NEWS03/709309921

http://www.wgal.com/news/8-on-your-side/should-we-have-to-pay-property-taxes-to-fund-schools/-/17986766/22372318/-/kr12jv/-/index.html

Image Attributions

  1. [1]^ Credit: Brian Shamblen; Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/23972840@N04/10130601114; License: CC BY-NC 3.0
  2. [2]^ Credit: Brett VA; Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/smart_growth/2283863217/; License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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