Let’s hear it for taxes, you guys. “Hip, hip, hooray, time to pay taxes!” said no one ever. Well, okay, if we’re honest there are probably some people who do get joy out of the tax code (certified public accountants and tax attorneys, for example). But as you consider your mobile home property taxes, delight, thrill, and joy may not be the first words that pop into your head. But if you’re looking for some thoughts to get your wheels turning in a taxwise direction, then we’re glad you’re here!
A good starting point
Clearly, mobile home property taxes and other taxes, too, are important issues. And it’s wise to note that the thoughts we share here are no substitute for expertise in the area of tax law. If you need concrete answers for your own situation, then, by all means, reach out to your local tax officials, a tax attorney, or other tax professional.
To start us out, there’s a distinction to be made when it comes to talking about mobile home property taxes. What kind of property are we talking about? You may already know that mobile homes can fall into different categories of property type. For instance, a mobile home attached to land could be real property while a mobile home on a rented lot could be personal property.
Real & personal property
So, below, we may mostly be talking about property taxes when your mobile home counts as real property. However, having a mobile home that counts as personal property may not get you off the hook as far as taxes are concerned. Therefore, don’t assume that you won’t be paying anything at all.
For one thing, you may need to think about personal property tax (like you’d pay for a car). Plus, be sure you know who is supposed to pay property tax when you’re renting the lot your mobile home is on — you or the landowner? Additionally, the state of Washington says, “Whether the county assessor calls a manufactured home “real property” or “personal property,” the tax rate is the same.” Bottom line, determine whether your manufactured home is classified as real or personal property and how or whether that affects what taxes you’re responsible for.
Why pay mobile home property taxes anyway?
Well, when we’re talking about a tax on real property there are several reasons to pay it. For starters, it’s the law. Obviously, running afoul of the law can land you in hot water (not to mention the moral implications of such a situation).
And when we say it could get you into hot water, it’s not just the possibility of fines, we’re talking about. Actually, you could even end up having your home foreclosed on as a result of not paying taxes.
Is it a disappearing act for money?
But, you’re still wondering, what exactly are these taxes for? It all just ends up as stacks of money in a government building somewhere, right? Uh, not quite.
Actually, when it comes to real estate taxes, let’s say you have a mental image of your money traveling quite far away and never being heard from again. Then, you may be surprised to learn that some of it is more local than you think. Your real estate taxes may help fund things in your community such as local schools, road maintenance, emergency services, etc.
So if you’re feeling down in the dumps about “losing” your money to taxes, at least there may be some kind of silver lining to your cloud. Just think about the fact that you have roads to drive on, firefighters & emergency medical personnel in case of emergency, and local law enforcement to keep the peace in your community. Plus, you may even be reaping the benefits of water and sewer services, too.
Do they just pull a dollar figure out of a hat?
Obviously, this is tongue-in-cheek. But the answer is no. Your local officials are not just dreaming up numbers and attaching them to your property. So how do they come up with the dollar figure for you to pay?
Well, how much you pay depends on how much your home is worth. Helpful, you think, but how much is my home worth?
How you feel about your home
Let’s say you love your mobile home. The view from your front door is scenic. And the living room is cozy with mementos of the family you’ve raised here. Plus, the kitchen is filled with memories of cooking Thanksgiving dinners and baking birthday cakes. Even the lawn is special — you remember the spot where you put up the first swingset for the kids.
There’s even that spot of brown dirt with the grass worn away where you hung a tire swing for summer daydreaming. This mobile home isn’t just any old dwelling place to you. Conversely, it’s a special place that you love to call home. Let’s you say you count the value of your mobile home very high. In fact, you feel you can’t even put a price on it.
How the government feels about your home
While your home may be extremely valuable to you, keep in mind that others may not have quite the same perspective you do. To you, it has sentimental value. But while the locality you live in may fully respect how much you love your home, they aren’t sentimentally attached to it.
So, when it comes to how much you owe in taxes, it’s not a number that you, the homeowner, come up with after taking stock of how much use you get out of your mobile home and how many good memories you have there. No, it’s actually more technical than that.
And it’s a determination made by someone other than you. Enter the tax assessor. They discover how much your real estate is worth. The value the assessor puts on your real property can be multiplied by the tax rate to conclude how much you’ll owe in taxes.
And it’s not just the four walls, ceiling, & floor
Additionally, keep in mind that the value placed on your real property may take into consideration more than just the mobile home itself. It’s kind of a package deal — so if you have a garage, that may affect your tax bill.
Moreover, other factors can also affect property taxes. While she’s not specifically addressing mobile homes, check out Cindy Perman’s Things That Make Your Property Taxes Go Up.
Age of your home
Perhaps you’ve recently purchased a brand-new mobile home. Or maybe your home isn’t quite that young. Instead, yours is well-loved and well lived in. It’s not as young as it once was (who is?). However, it still serves you well.
Turns out your mobile home’s age could be a consideration when it comes to mobile home property taxes. As we noted here when answering “do you pay property taxes on a mobile home?” the year your mobile home was built may be pertinent.
Does everyone everywhere have to pay property taxes?
Actually, some homeowners may not have to pay property taxes (or may be eligible to pay less in taxes). Some exemptions may apply to the following:
- Veterans who are disabled
- Surviving spouses of veterans who were eligible for property tax exemption
- Surviving spouses of emergency workers (for example, in Virginia)
- Senior citizens
If you fall into one of these categories, be sure to find out whether any exemptions apply to you and your mobile home. Also, understand that exemptions may vary from state to state. Thus, you should check what exemptions apply for your situation, in your area. Obviously, it would be a welcome relief to discover that you don’t have to pay or have to pay less than you thought!
What about mobile home sales tax?
In addition to considering mobile home property taxes, you may need to give thought to other taxes, such as sales tax.
When you buy a mobile home you may be responsible to pay sales tax on the purchase. For instance, in the state of Virginia, “to title a manufactured home or mobile office” you must, “pay the Sales and Use Tax (3% for manufactured homes; 2% for mobile offices)” according to the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles.
However, be aware that sales and use tax may not apply in every situation. A home that’s in a permanent state paying property taxes for its locality is one example as Amber Keefer notes on Sapling.com.
How to pay your taxes
Remember that paying taxes will, of course, take money. However, don’t wait until the taxes are actually due to start thinking about them. And don’t spend your money in such a way that you come up short when it’s time to pay. For one thing, you could consider setting aside a portion of each paycheck so that you don’t end up scrambling when the time comes to pay. Another option is an escrow account.
Should you decide to begin saving the money so that you can easily pay when it comes due (it may be that you’ll be paying twice annually), here are some ideas to get you started.
Make a plan and stick to it
You may choose to set a target amount of money you’d like to have saved up for property taxes. To prevent being overwhelmed and unready when it’s time to pay, start saving the money little by little. Here’s a way you could set aside money each month.
Write down the total amount you’re trying to set aside for your tax payment. For the sake of the illustration, let’s say it’s $1,000.
Now, calculate your monthly income. You can do this by taking your annual income and dividing it by 12. That should produce your average monthly income. If you make $30,000 a year, then each month that would come out to $2,500.
When do you need it by?
Next, ask yourself how long until your property taxes will be due. Let’s pretend you have 6 months left before you’ll need to pay them in our illustration here. In this case, you want to set aside money each month so that at the end of 6 months, you’ll have your target amount — $1,000.
To do this, take your target ($1,000) and divide it by 6. This yields approximately $167, and that becomes your target to set aside monthly. So, each month you’ll be taking $167 out of your paycheck and setting it aside. You might choose to put it in an envelope in a safe place. However, if you’d rather put it in the bank, you might be able to use a second checking account linked to your first account.
Flexible yet achieving
Now, of course, if you prefer, you could set aside more than $167 in the first month. Then, add a bit less than $167 in the second month. In this way, you could be flexible as long as you’re staying on track over time. Additionally, if you get paid twice a month instead of once, you can simply pay half of the $167 each time you get your paycheck.
In the end, exactly how you do it isn’t the most important part. The important thing is to get it set aside if you know you need to be saving it up ahead of time.
Need to learn & think more?
If this article has you looking to go on thinking and learning about taxes, here are more articles to check out.
- What You Need To Know About Your Mobile Home Taxes
- Do Mobile Home Owners Pay Property Tax? What If I Don’t Own Land?
- Can I Get A Tax Credit For A Mobile Home Purchase?
Once your mobile home property taxes are behind you, you can breathe a sigh of relief and perhaps do something a bit more fun. Like reading this article: 10 Amazing, Fun, Quirky, And Interesting Mobile Home Facts. Or, if taxes have you thinking seriously about your mobile home and it’s value, take a look at our Mobile Home Upgrades That Can Increase The Value Of Your Home.