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 1.32%, about 10% higher than 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, 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
Municipalities primarily administer Maine real estate taxes and use the money 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 1.32%, about 10% higher than the national average.
Rates vary significantly depending on where in Maine you live, however. The average effective rate in Hancock County is 0.94%, lowest in the state. On the other hand, the average effective rate in Androscoggin County is 1.62%, 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.
Want to learn more about your mortgage payments? Check out our monthly mortgage payment calculator.
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 these standards are required to do a revaluation of all property in their district.
Maine also offers exemptions that residents can claim in order to decrease their property taxes. The homestead exemption allows Maine residents to decrease a property’s taxable value by $20,000. Senior veterans who are 62 or older may be eligible for an exemption of $6,000. An individual who is legally blind may also receive an exemption of $4,000.
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 ($20 of tax per $1,000 of assessed value) 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 1.38%, 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 2018 tax rate is 21.65 mills. Since Portland assesses property at 100% of market value that implies an effective rate of 2.165% for real estate owners in the city. However, property tax exemptions like the homestead exemption may reduce taxes owed.
The typical homeowner in York County pays $2,865 annually in property taxes, about $670 more than the national average. Rates vary greatly between municipalities. In Ogunquit the total rate is 0.75%, lowest in the county. In Sanford the rate was 2.074%, 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 close to the state averages. The county’s average effective property tax rate is 1.36%, which ranks as the fifth highest of Maine’s 16 counties.
Kennebec County is home to the state capital of Augusta. The mill rate in Augusta, which is about 19, is above average for the county but below average for Maine’s other large cities. In Kennebec County, the cities of Gardiner and Waterville both have mill rates above 21. On the other end of the spectrum, the town of Rome has a mill rate of just 8.5. Overall, the county’s average effective property tax rate is 1.28%, seventh lowest in the state.
Androscoggin County has the highest property tax rates in the state of Maine. The county’s average effective property tax rate is 1.62%. The county is home to two of Maine’s most populated cities, Lewiston and Auburn. The property tax rates in both cities are more than 21 mills and rank among the highest in the state.
The northernmost county in Maine and the largest county by land area east of the Rockies, Aroostook County has property tax rates above the state average. However, home values in the county are lower than elsewhere in the state and so many homeowners in Aroostook County pay relatively low total taxes. The median property tax payment in the county is just $1,364 per year, nearly $1,000 less than the state average.
Oxford County is located in western Maine along the New Hampshire border. The county’s average effective property tax rate of 1.29% ranks as the eighth highest out of Maine’s 16 counties. At that rate, a homeowner whose home is worth $150,000 would pay $1,935 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 0.94% is the lowest in the state and well below the state average of 1.32%. 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 1.31%, the sixth 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 $2,547 annually in property taxes, the fourth highest amount in the state. Property tax rates, however, are not especially high. The county’s average effective property tax rate is 1.29%, 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 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.
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 2017 American Community Survey, Department of Education, Federal Bureau of Investigation, State Police or Justice Department websites