Overview of Maine Taxes
Property tax rates in Maine are slightly higher than the U.S. average. The state’s average effective property tax rate is 1.23%, less than a tenth of a percent above the national average.
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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 Tax
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.
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Maine Property Taxes
Taxes on real estate in Maine are administered primarily by municipalities and are used to pay for local services such as public schools, libraries and law enforcement. Property tax rates in Maine are slightly higher than the U.S. average. The state’s average effective property tax rate is 1.23%, less than a tenth of a percent above the national average.
Rates vary significantly depending on where in Maine you live, however. The average effective rate in Hancock County is 0.90%, lowest in the state. On the other hand, the average effective rate in Androscoggin County is 1.5%, highest in the state. Below, we will look at rates in every county and discuss a few key rules every Maine homeowner should know. If you aren’t a Maine homeowner yet but are considering becoming one, take a look at our Maine mortgage guide. It breaks down the important information you’ll want to understand before purchasing a home in the Pine Tree State.
How Property Taxes in Maine Work
In Maine any person who owns real estate on April 1st of the year is responsible for paying property taxes on that property. The taxes owed depend on the just value, or market value, of the property and the local tax rate.
To determine the market value of property, local assessors use one of three methods. The most common is the sales comparison approach, which looks at the sale prices of similar nearby homes to determine what your home would likely get on the market. The other two methods are the cost approach, which calculates the cost to replace your property, and the income approach, which calculates the income your property could generate if it were rented or used for some other purpose.
There are two statewide rules that ensure local assessors value property in an equitable fashion. The first states that assessed values cannot be less than 70% of fair market value. The second is that two similar properties should never have an assessed value difference of more than 20%. Municipalities that fail to meet this standards are required to do a revaluation of all property in their district.
Maine Property Tax Rates
The tax rates that appear on tax bills in Maine are generally denominated in mill rates. A mill rate is the tax per thousand dollars in assessed value. For example, a home with an assessed value of $150,000 and a mill rate of 20 would pay annual taxes of $3,000.
Because assessment levels vary between municipalities in Maine, mill rates in one area cannot be directly compared to mill rates in another. For that reason, it is useful to look at average effective rates. An effective rate is the annual property tax payment as a percentage of the total home value. The table below shows average effective property tax rates for every county in Maine.
|County||Median Home Value||Median Annual Property Tax Payment||Average Effective Property Tax Rate|
The most populous county in Maine, Cumberland County also has among the highest property tax rates. The county’s average effective rate is 1.33%, which ranks as the third highest of any county in the state.
In Portland, the largest city in the county as well as the state, the 2015 tax rate is 20 mills. Since Portland assesses property at 100% of market value that implies an effective rate of 2% for real estate owners in the city. However, property tax exemptions like the homestead exemption may reduce taxes owed. The homestead exemption reduces taxable value by $10,000 for permanent residences living in their own home.
The typical homeowner in York County pays $2,665 annually in property taxes, about $500 more than the national average. Rates vary greatly between municipalities. In Ogunquit the total rate in 2013 was 0.756%, lowest in the county. In Sanford the rate was 2.098%, the highest rate in the county.
Penobscot County is in central Maine and contains the state’s third largest city, Bangor. Property tax rates in the county are very close to the state averages. The county’s average effective property tax rate is 1.24%, which ranks as the sixth highest of Maine’s 16 counties.
Schools districts are one of the largest recipients of property tax revenues in Maine. While Kennebec County’s average effective property tax rate of 1.18% is slightly below average, several of the school districts in the county do not rate well. According to the Maine Department of Education, no school in the Augusta Public School system scored higher than a B for overall performance in 2014, with most receiving a C. In Waterville, two schools received a C and one received an F.
Androscoggin County has the highest property tax rates in the state of Maine. The county’s average effective property tax rate is 1.50%. Despite those high rates, schools in the county’s largest city, Lewiston, underperform. The state of Maine gave Lewiston High School, the city’s only public high school, a D grade for the 2014 year.
The northernmost county in Maine and the largest county by land area east of the Rockies, Aroostook County has property tax rates close to the state average. However, because home values in the county are lower than elsewhere in the state many homeowners in Aroostook County pay relatively low total taxes. The median property tax payment in the county is just $1,212 per year, nearly $1,000 less than the state average.
Oxford County is located in western Maine along the Vermont border. The county’s average effective property tax rate of 1.13% ranks as the 5th lowest out of Maine’s 16 counties. At that rate, a homeowner whose home is worth $150,000 would pay $1,695 annually in property taxes.
Maine residents seeking low property tax rates might want to consider Hancock County. The county’s average effective property tax rate of 0.90% is the lowest in the state and well below the state average of 1.23%. Hancock County also has the longest coastline of any of Maine’s counties so homeowners seeking beachfront property should find plenty of options.
Somerset County stretches from central Maine to the Canada border. It is a largely rural county. The average effective property tax rate in the county is 1.26%, the fifth highest rate of Maine’s 16 counties.
With a population of around 40,000, Knox County is the 10th most populous county in Maine. The typical homeowner in Knox County pays $2,355 annually in property taxes, the 4th highest amount in the state. Property tax rates, however, are not especially high. The county’s average effective property tax rate is 1.20%, slightly below the state average.
Property Tax: Which Counties are Getting the Best Bang for Their Buck
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 for their property tax dollars. To do this we looked at school rankings, crime rates and property taxes for every county.
As a way to measure the quality of schools, we calculated the average math and reading/language arts proficiencies for all the school districts in the country. Within each state, these schools were then ranked between 1 and 10 (with 10 being the best) based on those average scores.
For each county, we calculated the violent and property crimes per 100,000 residents.
Using the school and crime numbers, we calculated a community score. This is the ratio of the school rank to the combined crime rate per 100,000 residents.
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.
Finally, we calculated a tax value by creating a ratio of the community score to the per capita property tax paid. This shows us the counties in the country where people are getting the most bang for their buck, or where their property tax dollars are going the furthest.
Sources: US Census Bureau 2016 American Community Survey, Department of Education, Federal Bureau of Investigation, State Police or Justice Department websites