Property Tax Overview
Nature of the tax -- how assessed
The property tax in Tennessee is a local tax specifically authorized in the Tennessee Constitution, Article II, Sections 28 and 29. All property other than public utility company property is assessed by elected county assessors of property. Public utility property is assessable by the Office of State Assessed Properties (615/741-3369). Annual renditions are required only for public utility property and locally assessed business tangible personal property. The renditions are due March 1 (local businesses) or April 1 (public utility). A $100 penalty is authorized by statute for late filers. A timely filed schedule can be amended until September 1 following the tax year. Real property is reappraised at periodic intervals of from four to six years.
Assessment percentages and tax rates, delinquency
Assessments are based on a percentage of fair market value of the property as of January 1, the required percentage varying according to statutory classifications based on actual or potential use (public utility, 55%, commercial and industrial, 40 % on realty and 30 % on personalty, farm, 25%, and residential, 25%). Tax rates are expressed as an amount per $100 of assessed value, and are set by the governing body of the county or city. The delinquency date is generally March 1 following the tax year, but some cities have earlier delinquency dates by private act or local ordinance. Sales of property for unpaid delinquent taxes are advertised and conducted through local chancery courts in each county.
Exemptions are available for religious, charitable, scientific, and nonprofit educational uses, governmental property, and cemeteries. Most nongovernmental exemptions require a one-time application and approval by the State Board of Equalization (615/401-7883) and there is a May 20 application deadline. There is no "homestead" exemption, but low income elderly and disabled persons and disabled veterans may qualify for a rebate of taxes on a specified portion of the value of property used as their residence. Business inventories held for sale or exchange by merchants subject to the business gross receipts tax, are not assessable. Farm and residential tangible personal property are not assessable.
Assessments must be appealed annually to the county board of equalization in each county, or they become final for the year. The appeal must be presented to the county board in person or through an authorized agent, during the board's regular session which is typically during, the month of June. Consult individual counties for more detail. Decisions of the county boards may be appealed to the State Board of Equalization, but must be filed by August 1 or within 45 days from the county board notice, whichever is later. Appeal consultants at the state level of appeal (other than attorneys) must qualify on the basis of appraisal training (120 classroom hours) and experience (four years) and register with the State Board of Equalization.