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I have been getting a lot of questions from Minnesota home owners and future buyers about the homestead credit previously available on Minnesota properties. The Minnesota Association of Realtors has recently put forth a helpful explanation about the new Homestead Market Value Exclusion (HMVE) that was created in the 2011 legislative session.

The new HMVE is a recent change to how homestead property taxes are calculated. It replaces the Homestead Market Value Credit (HMVC). Under the old credit system, the credit lowered a homeowner’s property tax burden based on the value of their home. The state then reimbursed local governments for the lost amount of their levy (revenues) due to the credit. However, due to the state’s budget problems, it was rare that local governments were fully reimbursed by the state. Eliminating the credit and creating an exclusion removes the possibility of the state withholding funds and creates more stability for local governments.

The new program excludes a portion of the homeowner’s market value from the property tax calculation. The amount of value excluded is directly proportional to the credit the home received under the old law. The actual tax burden on homesteads could be lesser or greater depending upon the mix of properties in the taxing jurisdiction and the levy decisions made by local governments (for more information on the technical calculations, please see further below).

Technical Calculations

Description: Under the old credit system, the credit amount would rapidly increase as a home value approached $76,000 with the maximum credit amount of $304. After $76,000 the credit would decrease until it was completely phased out with a home value of over $414,000. The new exclusion mimics this same scale as homes approaching $76,000 would have a rapidly increasing exclusion of value, with a home valued at $76,000 receiving a maximum exclusion of 40% of their home value from property tax calculations. The percentage then decreases and is phased out at homes valued over $414,000.


Old Law with Credit New Law with HMVE
Market Value (MV) determined by Assessor Market Value (MV) determined by Assessor
N/A Calculate exclusion (HMVE):MV < $76K: Exclusion = 0.4 x MV

MV $76K – $414K: Exclusion=$30,400 –
((MV – $76K) x.09)

MV > $414K: Exclusion = $0

N/A Taxable MV = MV – Exclusion
Homes < $500K: MV x .1% = Tax Capacity (TC)Homes > $500K: $5,000 + ((MV – $500K) x 1.25%) = TC Homes < $500K: Taxable MV x .1% = Tax Capacity (TC)Homes > $500K: $5,000 + ((Taxable MV – $500K) x 1.25%) = TC
Gross Tax = TC x total tax rate (county + city + special district rate) N/A
HMVC = MV < $76K: MV x .004MV $76K – $414K: $304 – ((MV – $76K) x .0009)

MV > $414K: $0

Net Tax = Gross Tax – HMVC Net Tax = TC x total tax rate (county + city + special district rate)

(Referendum taxes are not covered here)


I think the answer to this post on comparing Market Value vs. Assessed Value can be summed up in four simple words, “Just Don’t Do It“. In the past few months I have seen an increased objection voiced by some buyers over home prices. When I ask them to justify their reasoning, I am quickly told something along the lines of Well, the home is only assessed for X. Why should I pay more than that?”

To make it simple, Market Value in Minnesota is what a buyer is willing to pay for a home, where Assessed Value is a valued placed on a property by a governemnt tax assessor for the purposes of taxation. The two are not the same. Every state is different in how they calculate property assessments, and Minnesota uses a system that is different from any state I have lived in.

Take for instance Dakota County.The current 2011 tax statements that were sent out this year are not based on current home prices. Instead, they are taken from home sales that occured between Oct. 1, 2009 and Sept. 30, 2010, data that no home appraiser would be able to use under financial guidelines as the sales are too far into the past. So if I were to buy a home towards the end of 2011, the “values” used by the county assessor could be off by two years!

Now look at homes currently for sale on the open market. The most important job of a real estate agent is determining what the Fair Market Value of a property is by comparing it to other properties that have recently sold in the area. This “market snapshot” is a more accurate, not to mention more up-to-date, representation of a home’s value. If buyer’s are willing to pay “X” for a similar home down the street, then there is a good chance another buyer is willing to pay around the same amount for your home.

While homes that are priced in lower tax brackets tend to show assessed values and market values closer together, homes in the upper-bracket real estate market, especially waterfront properties and historic homes, tend to be further apart when comparing the two values. County tax assessors generally have poor to no knowledge of what the true value of an expensive home might be, as they rarely have direct access to the interior of homes. Take for instance a large historic home I sold in Minneapolis. It was a truly unique home with nothing remotely like it on that side of town. The historic elements inside the home were priceless and would be near impossible to duplicate, but according to the tax assessor, the home was assessed well below its true market value. When a buyer did come in with an offer, they had it priced at the assessed value. I literally laughed when I saw the exact number and had to do the buyer’s agent’s job for her by showing where proper comparable home’s would come from (she was an out of town agent). After some negotiating, the seller and buyer were able to come to an agreed to price, which was up considerably from the assessed value first proposed by the buyer.

So please, when you are shopping for a home, do not use the assessed value of a home as the basis for an offer. Instead, look at what other comparable homes in the area have sold for and go from there!


Our Lovely Governor’s Plan

In case you haven’t heard, our new democratic governor has unveiled his budget proposal for Minnesota.  The Governor’s proposal focuses largely on liberal, revenue-raising measures that unfairly target one group of people – those he considers RICH. 

  • His plan calls for creating a fourth tier income tax bracket at 10.95% (why  not just make it 11?) for joint filers earning over $150,000 and head-of-household filers earning $130,000. (By the way, when did spouses making $150K become rich?)
  •  He also wants to create a “temporary” income surtax of 3% on filers earning more than $500,000 annually. Of course we all know that any tax that is touted as being only “temporary” always becomes a permanent tax.
  • And probably the most ridiculous is imposing a statewide property tax on homes valued over $1 million. 

It shouldn’t be any surprise to my readers that I oppose all three of these proposals. I am not rich, but I aspire to be some day through hard work. Why then should I, or anyone else who has worked hard to be successful, be punished for earning more? I constantly hear about how one class deserves more than the other, and frankly I don’t get the whole “spread the wealth” thing. I grew up lower middle class, and through hard work, my father raised us up some. He never asked for a handout, and he raised me to believe that the only one looking out for myself is me. I could never ask someone that is wealthy to give me a piece of their pie just because I don’t have any – I prefer to make my own.

So when I hear Dayton say he wants to tax the rich more because “they can afford it”, I get a little mad. At 11%, Minnesota will be one of the states with the highest tax bracket. I see luxury home property taxes all the time, and trust me, they aren’t cheap. So also increasing the property taxes on million dollar homes just pushes the knife in further for high income wage earners. With the plethora of million dollar homes available in the Twin Cities, especially around Lake Minnetonka, I can help but think that these proposals will keep the wealthy from moving to Minnesota, therefore making it harder for local home owners to sell.

I guess we will just have to wait and see what happens. The Minnesota Association of Realtors “opposes the imposition of a statewide property tax for several reasons.  First, property taxes should remain a source of local government revenues and should not be expanded at a state level.  Second, expanding the residential property tax to the state poses an opportunity for future expansion to other, lower-valued properties.  Finally, it is the wrong time to add additional burdens to an already ailing housing market”.