The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Property taxes and homesteading

Tax reassessment

I think property taxes are one of the most-overlooked items that should be considered before buying new land. I read all the time about homesteaders who settle in wealthy areas and end up paying a thousand bucks or more per month in property taxes. If quitting your job is on your homesteading agenda, that kind of tax burden will make it exceedingly difficult to simplify your life enough to become self-sufficient financially.

I have to admit I didn't think about property taxes when I bought our land either. Luckily, I couldn't afford much, and ugly-duckling properties with junked singlewides on them command very little value on the open market. Which is a good thing! It means that even after our most recent tax reassessment, our property taxes are likely to stay below $35 per month. Now that's a tax burden we can afford.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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I just recently learned that in the State of Tennessee, if you are over 65, and your income is below a certain level (I'm still not sure what the level is) you can have your property taxes reduced significantly. You simply apply for a "senior citizen discount." Luckily, I qualify so my property taxes go down from $321/year to about $90/year. Nice! :)
Comment by NaYan Tue Feb 9 09:00:07 2016

As long as there are property taxes, you never really own your land, but are only renting it from the govt. And then there's the eminent domain policy of the current candidate favored by the trailer trash crowd.

You also have to plan ahead: a friend of mine bought a lot in a rural area 90 miles outside of Chicago 20 yrs ago. Thanks to urban sprawl, that area is now a growing suburban community needing to build new schools, etc. He could no longer afford to build & retire there thanks to the burden of increasing taxes.

Comment by doc Wed Feb 10 09:47:04 2016

NaYan --- Our county does a tax break for retired and/or disabled people as well. Definitely worth looking into for folks who fit either category.

Doc --- Thinking ahead to how your property taxes will change over time is very smart, but I'd say hard to do! I guess if you're relatively close to a big city, you can assume the town will likely swallow you up in your lifetime. Hopefully we'll be spared.... :-)

Comment by anna Wed Feb 10 10:17:47 2016
Also check out other zoning which may allow for tax breaks. If you own wooded land there may be tax options - upfront versus deferred, and use limitations which may result in opportunities for decreased taxes. Check out any other 'special use' tax reductions that might be possible.
Comment by Charity Wed Feb 10 17:43:10 2016

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