Property Taxes in the City of Hartford

One of the most difficult conversations that I have as a real estate agent is explaining the property tax system in the City of Hartford.

The Elizabeth Park Annual Garden in HartfordMost of the time the subject comes up as I’m touring around with a buyer and trying to cover various home buying subjects as we drive from one property to the next. My client will casually ask about taxes, expecting an answer along the lines of “They’re low/high compared to other towns.” In most towns I can give an answer like that, and then also talk about where that town is in the revaluation process.

When we’re touring Hartford, my answer is usually, “They’re complicated; would you like the short version or the long version?” To their credit, most buyers seem to ask for the long version. They want to know how it works, and what possibilities exist in the future. After all, they’re going to be on the hook for making the tax payments if they buy a house in the City. And as their agent, I feel it’s my responsibility to make sure my buyers have all the information they need to make an informed decision.

I’ve spent a considerable amount of time trying to understand exactly how the taxes work in Hartford.

I’ve talked to the City Assessor and various staff members to work through the details of the current system at different points of time. I’ve talked to our elected officials at both the City and State level to hear the arguments for why they have advocated for different implementations. I’ve sat in on presentations and negotiations between different constituency groups as they hash out a forward looking plan.

Despite all this effort, I still cannot neatly summarize property taxes in the City of Hartford for someone with basic municipal property tax knowledge. It’s just too complicated. I can’t even build a spreadsheet/model that will predict the coming year’s taxes based on an expected City budget. There are too many moving parts.

The best I can do is create a resource, so that those interested in learning about how property taxes work in the City of Hartford have a central place to go for information. I’ve made an effort to summarize as best I can, and I’ve also collected and sorted links to over 50 articles, presentations, and videos on the subject dating back to 2006.

The City of Hartford: Property Taxes page is a work in progress, and I definitely appreciate feedback and comments on how to make it more helpful, more accurate, and generally better.

4 thoughts on “Property Taxes in the City of Hartford

  1. What was the impetus for the change between 2004 and 2005, which it appears up until that point, 70% of the assessed value was being used for tax purposes on all real-estate?

  2. I honestly don’t know, Brooks, but it is an interesting question.

    Looking at my personal tax bill, the City implemented things differently in Grand List 2005. The Fair Value continued to be from the previous revaluation, and the nominal assessment ratio continued to be 70%. However, we were given a “Tax Credit” to lower our final bill. The mill rate jumped that year, so I used the Tax Credit to calculate an effective assessment ratio to make the comparison apples to apples. In all subsequent years we had a lower assessment ratio and an “Exempt Amount” that resulted in the effective assessment ratios shown.

    That was just as we moved here, and I wasn’t fully up to speed on the issue yet. The internet research I’ve done hasn’t turned up any useful articles from that time period. And when I talk to various people I’ve been focusing on the present and future.

    One of these days I may go back and try to figure it out. But for now I’m much more interested in how the 2011 legislation is going to play out. I’m very curious to see how the new Fair Values turn out in October.

  3. Kyle, I actually had to research the current and upcoming taxes in Hartford for a project at work and could explain some of the reasons for the changes…but trust me, you don’t even want to know. It will give you a really big headache!

  4. Itss unfortunate that the property tax system is so complex. I suspect it does not make home ownership in Hartford more attractive. Sounds like reform would be in order – but likely that’s not on the agenda of the Mayor at this point. Or maybe it is – not sure.

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