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SALT LAKE COUNTY -- Salt Lake County taxpayers are talking about pain in the pocketbook as they appeal their property tax assessments Monday. Though property values in Salt Lake County are down, taxes for many property owners are up.
Property values as a whole in Salt Lake County are down 11 percent. But property taxes are actually going up in order to fund the same level of government services. Also, taxes are going up to pay for the split of the Jordan School District.
Residents can't directly appeal the amount of taxes they pay, but they can appeal the assessed value of their property, which determines how much they pay in property tax. They appeal through the Board of Equalization.
Ed Kent, senior hearing officer for the Salt Lake County Tax Administration said, "I think the big issue this year is going to be the bottom line taxes that people are going to have to pay based on those assessments. We've seen significant increases in taxes as a result of the Canyons and Jordan school districts split."
Consider the challenge for people like Alan Hyde. He retired 25 years ago and still lives in the house he built 44 years ago. Last year, his home value and taxes saw a big increase.
"Inflated money isn't worth what it used to be, and my income is still what it was 25 years ago," he said.People we talked with are appealing because they don't think their property is worth as much as the county says it is. Most understand that taxes pay for services like police and fire, but they wonder, in a down economy, how much people can take.
Salt Lake County resident Ron Diehl said, "The number of people protesting their taxes, I would fail to say, it would be substantially high."
Another resident, Tom Adair, agreed. "Absolutely," he said. "I think everyone is pinching their pennies and trying to figure out where their money is going and wanting to look at places to save. Nobody wants to see their property taxes going up, especially when the economy says they shouldn't be."
Alan Hyde thinks he has a solution. "I was thinking of seeing if they would offer me a job at the city and county so I could pay my taxes," he said.
For more information on the tax appeal process, see the related links on this page.
Two businesses paying less
County tax revenues are taking a hit because two major businesses, Kennecott Utah Copper and the airlines, will be paying less in taxes this year.
For the airlines, the change comes as a result of legislation passed last year which alters the formula by which the airlines are taxed.
In Kennecott's case, the decrease is closely linked to the global demand for copper. In all, the taxable value for the airlines fell $300 million and for Kennecott it dropped over $600 million. That translates into almost $10 million less in taxes the county can collect from them.
Gardner said, "Kennecott's value is tied very closely to the price of copper. And copper prices have gone down significantly and so the value of Kennecott has gone down as well." The company will pay less in taxes as a result.