Overview of Wisconsin Taxes
Wisconsin has some of the highest property taxes in the country. The state’s average effective property tax rate is 1.68%, the eighth-highest average of any state in the U.S.
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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.
Wisconsin Property Taxes
If you’re thinking about buying a home in Wisconsin, there's bad news: the Badger State has some of the highest property taxes in the country. The state’s average effective property tax rate is 1.68%, good for eighth-highest in the U.S.
That rate is unlikely to increase much in coming years, however. Wisconsin passed a law that strictly limits increases in total property tax revenue collected by cities, towns, counties and school districts.
For those looking to buy a home in the Badger State, our Wisconsin mortgage guide can help make the process of getting a mortgage a bit easier. It includes important information about rates and gives you the tools to make more informed decisions about your mortgage.
A financial advisor in Wisconsin 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 Wisconsin’s Property Tax Works
Property taxes in Wisconsin can be paid on two different installment schedules. The first requires all taxes to be paid by Jan. 31, while the second allows for more flexibility, with two equal payments due by Jan. 31 and July 31, respectively. Taxes are based on two key numbers: the assessed value of a property, and the total property tax rate.
Assessed value is calculated annually by local assessors in each tax district. While assessed value should be roughly equal to market value (the amount for which a home would actually sell), in some areas it varies by more than 25%. For this reason, the state of Wisconsin annually equalizes values between districts, and calculates an assessment ratio for each district.
The assessment ratio can help homeowners determine if their home has been accurately assessed. For example, if your home’s assessed value is $100,000, and your assessment ratio is 0.80, your market value should be about $125,000 (that’s $100,000 divided by 0.80). If you believe your home has been incorrectly assessed, you can file an appeal with your local Board of Review or Board of Assessors in Milwaukee.
There are several types of tax credits that many homeowners in Wisconsin receive. The most common is the School Levy Tax Credit. This credit is given to anyone who pays property taxes and is based on their school district levy, as well as the value of their home. Another common credit is the Lottery and Gaming Credit, which is given to Wisconsin homeowners living in a primary residence. The last is the First Dollar Credit, which is available to real estate owners who make qualifying improvements to their land.
Wisconsin Property Tax Rates
The rates paid by homeowners in Wisconsin vary depending on where they live. Cities, towns, municipalities and school districts all levy separate taxes with their own rates. Rates are calculated based on the total levy (the revenue a tax district would like to generate) divided by the total assessed value in the district.
So, to use a simple example, if a district’s levy is $1,000 and the total of assessed value in the district is $100,000, the rate would be .01, or 1%. In 2013, the Wisconsin legislature passed a law that limits any increases in total levies. Tax districts can only increase a levy by a public vote, when there is new construction or in a few other special circumstances.
Tax rates in Wisconsin are typically expressed in dollars of taxes per thousand of assessed value. Since assessed values vary on similar property between one taxation district and the next, rates in different areas are not necessarily comparable.
Instead, effective rates can be used to make direct comparisons. An effective property tax rate is the annual property tax payment as a percentage of home value. In the table below, you will find average effective rates, median annual property taxes and median home values for every county in Wisconsin.
|County||Median Home Value||Median Annual Property Tax Payment||Average Effective Property Tax Rate|
|Fond du Lac||$152,900||$2,989||1.95%|
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Milwaukee County is Wisconsin’s largest county by population. It sits on the western shore of Lake Michigan, a little less than 100 miles north of Chicago. It also has some of the highest property tax rates in Wisconsin.
The average effective property tax rate in Milwaukee County is 2.53%. That's more than double the national average, which is 1.07%. In the city of Milwaukee, the total property tax rate is 26.07 per $1,000 of assessed value.
If you have questions about how property taxes can affect your overall financial plans, a financial advisor in Milwaukee can help you out.
Located west of Milwaukee, Dane County is home to the Wisconsin state capital, Madison. In dollar terms, homeowners in Dane County pay some of the highest property taxes of any county in Wisconsin. The median annual property tax paid by Dane County’s homeowners is $4,994, by far the highest in the state.
Waukesha County is a largely suburban county located outside of Milwaukee. Tax rates in Waukesha County are significantly lower than those in neighboring Milwaukee County. The average effective tax rate in Waukesha County is 1.52%, compared to Milwaukee County's 2.53% rate.
With a population of about 260,000, Brown County is the fourth-largest county in Wisconsin. It is situated at the end of Green Bay and contains the city by the same name. In Green Bay, the tax rate is about $24.07 per $1,000 of assessed value.
Racine County is situated along the Lake Michigan shoreline, between Milwaukee and Chicago. While property tax rates in Racine are among the highest in the state, they are still well below those in Milwaukee County.
The average effective property tax rate in Racine County is 2.11%. At that rate, a homeowner with a home worth $200,000 would pay $4,220 annually in property taxes.
Located west of Green Bay and north of Lake Winnebago, Outagamie County has property taxes somewhat lower than the state average. The median annual property tax paid by homeowners in Outagamie County is $3,071, which is around $200 less than the state median of $3,320.
Winnebago County is located along the western shore of the 137,000 acre Lake Winnebago in east-central Wisconsin. The county’s average effective property tax rate ranks seventh in the state at 2.06%. In the county’s largest city, Oshkosh, the rate is about $16.18 per $1,000 of assessed value.
This southeastern Wisconsin County has some of the highest property tax rates in the state. The average effective property tax in Kenosha County is 2.20%. It is worth noting, however, that Illinois’s Lake County, which neighbors Kenosha County to the south, has even higher property tax rates. The average effective rate in Lake County is 2.83%.
With a population of about 162,000, southern Wisconsin’s Rock County is the ninth-largest county in the state. It also has the fifth-highest property taxes, with a county average effective rate of 2.11%. At that rate, the annual taxes on a home worth $150,000 would be $3,165.
Marathon County is Wisconsin’s oldest county, as it was established in 1850. Its name comes from the Battle of Marathon in 490 BC, from which the well-known long-distance race also earns its name. The median annual property tax paid by homeowners in Marathon County is $2,809, about $500 lower than the state median.
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.