Tax day! The good news is you don’t owe Teton County any income tax. Or Wyoming. But if you live in the county, you’ll likely contribute something to the county’s coffers before the day is over. The county collects over $23.5 million in tax revenues from two primary sources: sales and use taxes on what and how much we buy, and property tax on the value of our home and land. More good news is that while those collections are high on a per capita basis, nationally our effective local tax rate (percent of sales and percent of land value) is relatively low.
Until 2006, when the sales tax on most grocery items was repealed, we paid sales tax almost daily, and we still pay it when we purchase a wide range of goods and certain prepared foods. In Teton County our sales and use tax is 6%. The state collects 4%. In addition we levy another 1% in general purpose taxes and 1% in specific purpose excise tax (SPET). The latter to be as high as 2% each, but together cannot add up to more than 3%. The state keeps 69% of the first 4% and returns 31% to counties and towns. In Teton County 55% of that amount goes to the county and 45% goes to the town of Jackson based on their relative populations. In the year ending June 30, 2013 county budget Teton County took in $13,784,721 in sales and use taxes.
Property tax is based on a property’s value. It funds our schools, library, fire, weed and pest, hospital and conservation districts, plus some other special districts. As with sales and use taxes, the state strictly limits what counties can collect in property taxes and what it can spend these revenues on. Teton County’s mill levy is just over 58 mills ($58 for every $1,000 in assessed value). The mill levy can be converted to an effective tax rate for comparison across counties and states. Teton County’s average property tax burden ($3,815) is one of the highest in the nation, but its effective rate (.53%) is on the low end of the spectrum. In the year ending June 30, 2013 Teton County took in $9,724,828 in property tax revenues.
I’ll follow up this post with another one later describing in more detail what sort of projects and operations these revenues fund.