Overview of Iowa Taxes
Iowa has a statewide average effective property tax rate of 1.53%, which is well above the 1.07% national mark. As a result, Iowa has the 11th-highest effective rate in the country.
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To calculate the exact amount of property tax you will owe requires your property's assessed value and the property tax rates based on your property's address. Please note that we can only estimate your property tax based on median property taxes in your area. There are typically multiple rates in a given area, because your state, county, local schools and emergency responders each receive funding partly through these taxes. In our calculator, we take your home value and multiply that by your county's effective property tax rate. This is equal to the median property tax paid as a percentage of the median home value in your county.
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Jennifer Mansfield, CPA, JD/LLM-Tax, is a Certified Public Accountant with more than 30 years of experience providing tax advice. SmartAsset’s tax expert has a degree in Accounting and Business/Management from the University of Wyoming, as well as both a Masters in Tax Laws and a Juris Doctorate from Georgetown University Law Center. Jennifer has mostly worked in public accounting firms, including Ernst & Young and Deloitte. She is passionate about helping provide people and businesses with valuable accounting and tax advice to allow them to prosper financially. Jennifer lives in Arizona and was recently named to the Greater Tucson Leadership Program.
Iowa Property Taxes
Property taxes in the state of Iowa are a major source of revenue for local governments and services, including public schools. Taxes are collected annually, based on assessed property values that are recalculated every two years.
The state’s average effective property tax rate is 1.53%, which ranks among the top 15 rates in the U.S. However, since rates are determined locally, property taxes vary greatly between cities and counties within Iowa.
If you’re considering buying a home in any county in Iowa, check out our mortgage guide to learn about rates and the details of getting a mortgage in the Hawkeye State.
A financial advisor in Iowa can help you understand how homeownership fits into your overall financial goals. Financial advisors can also help with investing and financial plans, including taxes, homeownership, retirement and more, to make sure you are preparing for the future.
How Iowa Property Taxes Work
Iowa property taxes are paid annually in two installments, due on Sept. 1 and March 1 every year (though they are not considered late until the following month). Taxes are based on two factors: the assessed value of the property and the total local tax rate. Property values in Iowa are assessed every two years by county and city assessors.
Every county has its own assessor, as do a handful of individual cities. The assessor looks at market and property factors to determine the market value of the property. Assessed value, to which tax rates apply, is based on market value. The total statewide assessed value of residential property cannot increase by more than 3% annually. Thus, each year the state "rolls back" home values by applying a ratio calculated annually by the state's director of revenue. For 2020, that ratio is 67.25%.
There are a number of property tax credits and exemptions that can reduce the property taxes you owe. The most common is the Homestead Credit, which reduces your assessed value by $4,850. Other Iowa credits and exemptions include the Disabled Veteran’s Homestead Tax Credit, the Military Exemption and the Property Tax Credit for Senior and Disabled Citizens.
Iowa Property Tax Rates
Property tax rates in Iowa are determined annually depending on the budget requirements of local tax authorities and the total taxable value of property in a tax district. If taxable value increases one year and the budget requirements stay the same, tax rates will fall. If they decrease and requirements stay the same, tax rates will rise.
Tax rates are denominated in dollars per thousand. So if your total tax rate is 20, that would mean you owe $20 in taxes for every $1,000 in assessed value. On a home with an assessed value of $200,000, the total tax bill would be $4,000.
The table below shows the average effective tax rates for every county in Iowa. Effective tax rates are calculated by determining median annual tax payments as a percentage of median home value.
|County||Median Home Value||Median Annual Property Tax Payment||Average Effective Property Tax Rate|
|Black Hawk County||$143,100||$2,359||1.65%|
|Buena Vista County||$112,700||$1,510||1.34%|
|Cerro Gordo County||$124,400||$1,725||1.39%|
|Des Moines County||$103,600||$1,698||1.64%|
|Palo Alto County||$100,000||$1,266||1.27%|
|Van Buren County||$90,900||$1,269||1.40%|
Looking to calculate your potential monthly mortgage payment? Check out our mortgage calculator.
If you are looking for low property tax rates in Iowa, Polk County may not be your best bet. The county’s average effective property tax rate is 1.97%, which is the highest rate in the state. Unsurprisingly, the state's $3,384 median annual tax payment falls in the top three of Iowa counties. The highest property tax rates in the county can be found in Des Moines.
If you have questions about how property taxes can affect your overall financial plans, a financial advisor in Des Moines can help you out.
Linn County is in eastern Iowa and contains the city of Cedar Rapids. The typical homeowner in Linn County pays $2,754 annually in property taxes. The county’s average effective property tax rate of 1.79% is also higher than the state mark (1.53%).
With a population of around 172,000, Scott County is one of the most populous counties in Iowa. The average effective property tax rate in Scott County is 1.67%, which is still higher than the state average.
The median property tax payment among homeowners in Johnson County is $3,552 per year. That's the highest annual payment in the state. The county also has the second-highest property values in the state. Johnson County’s average effective property tax rate is 1.64%.
Black Hawk County
The average property tax rate in Black Hawk County is 1.65%. Homeowners in the county can pay a lower effective rate than that by claiming exemptions, though, such as the Homestead Exemption described above.
Located in western Iowa, Woodbury County has one of the highest average effective property tax rates in the state at 1.65%. That means a homeowner with a home worth the county median ($117,700) can expect to pay about $1,941 annually in property taxes.
Property taxes in Dubuque County are cheaper than those in the rest of Iowa’s largest counties. The county’s average effective property tax rate of 1.48% is also lower than the state average of 1.53%, but still higher than the 1.07% national average.
Pottawattamie County sits across the Missouri River from the city of Omaha, Nebraska. The county’s average effective property tax rate of 1.83% ranks second in the state of Iowa. So based on a home value of $158,900 (the median for Iowa), residents can expect to pay about $2,908 annually in property taxes.
A typical homeowner in Story County pays $2,783 in property taxes annually. In part, that is a result of high home values, as the median home value currently sits at $180,400. That is among the highest marks in the state. The county's 1.54% effective property tax rate is just about in line with the 1.53% state average.
Dallas County is located west of Polk County and Des Moines. While home values in Dallas County are higher than those in Polk County, the property tax rate is significantly lower. The average effective property tax rate in Dallas County is 1.54%.
Places Receiving the Most Value for Their Property Taxes
SmartAsset’s interactive map highlights the places across the country where property tax dollars are being spent most effectively. Zoom between states and the national map to see the counties getting the biggest bang for their property tax buck.
Our study aims to find the places in the United States where people are getting the most value for their property tax dollars. To do this, we looked at property taxes paid, school rankings and the change in property values over a five-year period.
First, we used the number of households, median home value and average property tax rate to calculate a per capita property tax collected for each county.
As a way to measure the quality of schools, we analyzed the math and reading/language arts proficiencies for every school district in the country. We created an average score for each district by looking at the scores for every school in that district, weighting it to account for the number of students in each school. Within each state, we assigned every county a score between 1 and 10 (with 10 being the best) based on the average scores of the districts in each county.
Then, we calculated the change in property tax value in each county over a five-year period. Places where property values rose by the greatest amount indicated where consumers were motivated to buy homes, and a positive return on investment for homeowners in the community.
Finally, we calculated a property tax index, based on the criteria above. Counties with the highest scores were those where property tax dollars are going the furthest.