Residential property tax in Utah is administered by the 29 county governments. The counties’ role begins with the surveying and/or recording of real property ownership records. It continues with the valuation, assessment, and equalization of property values. It ends with the collection of property taxes and the distribution of revenues to the various local governmental entities.
Each county has an elected surveyor, recorder, assessor, auditor, treasurer and commission or legislative body. The surveyor and recorder are responsible for creating and maintaining boundary and ownership information. The assessor is responsible for the appraisal and assessment of each property. The auditor applies tax rates and serves as clerk of the Board of Equalization. The Board of Equalization is composed of the county commission or legislative body who hear appeals of the valuations and assessments entered on the tax roll by the assessor. Finally, the treasurer is responsible for collecting the property tax.
The county assessor appraises residential property at 100% of its “fair market value,” which is theoretically the value at which the property would sell for on the open real estate market. In the process the assessor is also aiming for uniform valuations, meaning that similar properties should have similar values. The standards of fair market value and uniform valuations are requirements of the Utah Constitution.
Part or all of the fair market value may be exempt from taxation per Utah law. After subtracting the exempt portion of the value, the remaining value is the taxable value. Residential properties that serve as the primary residence of any household receive an exemption of 45% of fair market value. Therefore, the taxable value is only 55% of fair market value. Tax rates are applied to the taxable value to determine the property tax due.
On the other hand, the taxable value of a second residence or an unoccupied residential property would be equal to 100% of fair market value.
Residential properties that serve as someone’s primary residence receive an exemption of 45% of fair market value. As a result the primary residence is only assessed and taxed based on the remaining 55% of its fair market value. One acre of land per residence and the buildings and improvements associated with the primary residence receive the 45% exemption. The owner may need to apply with the county assessor to receive the exemption.
The exemption applies regardless of whether the resident is an owner or a tenant. The residential exemption is limited to one primary residence per household. If a household occupies more than one residence during a given year, the assessor determines which one qualifies as the primary residence. In making that determination, the assessor consults Administrative Rule R884-24P-52.