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4 Things You Should Know Know About Property Taxes

4 Things You Should Know Know About Property Taxes

4 Things You Should Know Know About Property Taxes

If you’re a homeowner or aspiring to be one, you’re likely familiar with the excitement and sense of achievement that comes with owning a property. However, amidst the joy of acquiring a home, there are essential aspects that every homeowner should grasp to navigate the financial responsibilities effectively. Today, we’re diving into a crucial pillar of homeownership: property taxes.

Understanding your property taxes is fundamental for any homeowner. This financial component not only impact your expenses but can also play a role in your longer-term financial planning. Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer or a seasoned homeowner, learning about property taxes can save you from unexpected surprises and help you make sound financial decisions.

Today, we’re going to explore everything you need to know about property taxes, from the basics to more nuanced aspects.

So, whether you’re curious about how property taxes are calculated, want to understand all your payment options, or simply want to deepen your understanding of this essential financial matter, you’re in the right place. Let’s get started!

What are property taxes?

Property taxes are mandatory payments you make each year as a property owner. They are paid to your municipal or provincial government. Property taxes collected by the governments in Kitchener and Waterloo, like in many other municipalities, are used to fund various local services and initiatives. Some common uses include:

  • Municipal services: The bulk of property tax revenue typically goes towards funding essential services provided by the local government, such as police and fire protection, waste management, road maintenance, snow removal, parks and recreation facilities, and public transit.
  • Infrastructure Maintenance and Development: Property taxes are used to maintain and develop infrastructure such as roads, bridges, sidewalks, and public buildings. This includes repairs, upgrades, and new construction projects to support the growing needs of the community.
  • Community Services: Funds may be allocated to support community programs and services, including libraries, community centers, cultural events, and social services aimed at supporting vulnerable populations within the community.
  • Education: A portion of property tax revenue may be transferred to local school boards to support the operation and maintenance of schools and educational programs in the area.
  • Debt Servicing: In some cases, property taxes may be used to service debt incurred by the municipality for capital projects or other initiatives.
  • Administration: A portion of property tax revenue is used to cover the administrative costs of running the local government, including salaries of employees, office expenses, and other

See how City of Kitchener breaks down the components of your tax bill here, and learn all about the City of Waterloo’s property tax here.

How are property taxes calculated?

The calculation of property taxes involves two key factors: the assessed value of the property and the tax rate set by the local municipality.

Assessment of Property Value: The assessment of a property’s value is usually performed by a local or provincial assessment body. This assessment considers the property’s size, age, location, and improvements or renovations. It’s important to note that the assessed value for tax purposes might differ from the property’s market value.

Municipal Tax Rates: Once the property’s value is assessed, the local municipality applies a tax rate to this value to determine the property tax. This rate is often expressed in mills (one mill equals $1 in property tax levied per $1,000 of a property’s assessed value). The rate varies depending on the municipality and the type of property.

In essence, the formula to calculate the property tax is Property Tax = Property Value Assessment x Municipal Tax Rate. For example, if a home is valued at $500,000 and the municipal tax rate is 0.5%, the homeowner would owe $2,500 in property taxes for the year.


How can property taxes affect real estate decisions?

Property taxes are a variable taken into account when determining a whether a homeowner can afford a home; it’s not just about the sale price of a property. Prospective buyers often scrutinize property tax rates when selecting a location, as these taxes directly affect the annual expense of homeownership. Opting for municipalities with lower tax rates can lower annual expenses for a homeowner.

Real estate investors also closely consider property taxes, as they directly influence the profitability of their investments. Elevated property taxes can diminish the net rental income, prompting investors to seek areas with lower tax rates to maximize returns or adjust rental prices accordingly.

Paying property taxes directly vs. through your mortgage lender

The Advantages of Paying Property Taxes Through Your Mortgage

Paying property taxes through your mortgage offers several advantages that can simplify your financial planning and homeownership experience. Here are some of the key benefits:

Simplified Budgeting – Combining your property taxes with your monthly mortgage payment simplifies your financial responsibilities. You make a single payment to your mortgage lender, who then disburses the funds to cover your mortgage principal, interest, and property taxes. Since your property taxes are spread out over the year, you can anticipate and budget for consistent monthly payments, making it easier to manage your finances and avoid unexpected lump-sum tax bills.

Elimination of Lump Sum Payments – Property taxes are typically assessed annually or semi-annually, resulting in substantial lump-sum payments for homeowners. By paying through your mortgage, you eliminate the need to come up with a large amount of money all at once. Without the burden of a significant tax bill looming, you can better allocate your resources to other financial priorities, such as home maintenance, savings, or investments.

Lower Risk of Tax Delinquency – Paying property taxes through your mortgage ensures that your taxes are paid on time. Mortgage lenders are responsible for making timely tax payments, reducing the risk of tax delinquency and potential penalties. With tax payments integrated into your mortgage, you can have peace of mind knowing that your property remains in good standing with local tax authorities, preventing any potential tax liens or legal complications.

The Drawbacks of Paying Property Taxes Through Your Mortgage

While paying property taxes through your mortgage offers convenience, it also comes with some drawbacks that you should consider before making this choice:

Higher Monthly Payments – When property taxes are added to your mortgage payment, your monthly housing costs will increase. This can strain your monthly budget, particularly if you’re on a tight financial plan. Lenders often require homeowners to maintain an escrow cushion, which is an extra amount added to your monthly payment to ensure they have enough funds to cover property taxes and insurance. This cushion can further increase your monthly expenses.

Loss of Control over Tax Payments – When property taxes are paid through your mortgage, you relinquish direct control over tax payments. Your mortgage lender handles the disbursement of tax funds, which means you may not know when and how they pay your property taxes. If there are discrepancies or issues with your property tax assessment, you may have limited ability to address them directly with the tax authority since your lender manages the payments on your behalf.

Potential Escrow Shortages – Property tax amounts can change from year to year due to factors such as reassessment or changes in local tax rates. Your lender may adjust your monthly payments to account for these fluctuations, potentially resulting in higher payments and escrow shortages. Escrow shortages can lead to unexpected increases in your monthly mortgage payments. These fluctuations can cause financial stress if you’re unprepared for the higher costs.


Learn more about the alternatives to paying property taxes through your mortgage.

Here are some other resources you may find helpful!