St. Joseph County Property Tax Bills Viewable Online

by Nick Molnar on November 13, 2009

St. Joseph County recently mailed property tax bills for the “2008 pay 2009” tax year. Payments are due December 11, 2009. I’ve heard reports of odd assessments and straightforward errors showing that the system needs further refinement. But the online search allows only 30 queries per IP address, which is not enough for any real study to see what is happening with assessed values and total charges.

I’ll dig deeper in the coming weeks, but wanted to post the link where you can view tax bills today. It shows assessment, exemptions, delinquencies and total charges. For a 2.95% surcharge you can also pay your bill by credit card through the site .

My assessment went from $140,200 to $159,800 – which is twice the $80,000 I paid for my home six months ago. My tax bill rose from $1,607.47 to $2,612.40.  That puts my effective tax rate at 1.45%, just shy of the 1.5% cap for owner occupied homes this year. In the coming weeks, I’ll detail the property tax appeals process as I go through it.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Jen November 13, 2009 at 10:59 pm

Can you please explain the 2nd line of the 2nd table on the property tax bills – no one from the treasurer, auditor or assessor could tell me what the $646.06 added to my tax bill for a property in Mishawaka-Penn was covering. The total tax rate on the bill is listed as 3.5993

On our rental assessed at $89,900 (that we bought for $40,000 a year ago as a distressed foreclosure) has a total tax bill of $2878.58 this year which is down about $300 from last year. But with the new standard deduction our home in Granger, assessed at almost double the value, is just over $1000.00 and at a 2.0320 tax rate.

I can see you are planning to appeal your assessment – do you think the purchase price difference alone can support the appeal? I am just sick over paying $6,000 in property taxes over the past two years on a property purchased last Nov for $40,000 that was pretty much uninhabitable.


Nick Molnar November 14, 2009 at 10:46 am

Line 2 in table 2 is your property’s calculated tax amount under St. Joseph County’s exemption from the tax caps for the County’s existing debt. If you want to know which “voter approved projects and charges” you are paying for and no one in the local government seems responsive, you should try contacting the Department of Local Government Finance with your questions.

The Petition for Assessment Review does include questions about recent sales of the property, but I’ve seen cases in which the purchase of a foreclosures is not considered to be true market value, so an appraisal or list of comparable sales at a lower price is helpful in the appeals process.


daltonsbriefs November 14, 2009 at 7:11 pm

One reason that rates may exceed the Daniels admin tax caps would be that St Joseph and Lake Counties got themselves exempted for debt in that law. There is a hope that when the legislature looks at this again this year for possible inclusion in the constitution that these exemptions will be eliminated further requiring the two counties to shrink the size of government.

You are correct though that foreclosure purchases are generally being disregarded, as not reflective of true market. You will want to supply additional non-foreclosed or distressed comps to make your case.


Frank De Buysser November 16, 2009 at 12:34 pm

I sold my motor home March 28 2008. Do I still have to pay $1174.92 tax on a 8 year old R V


Mr. T December 3, 2009 at 1:53 am

So, is it true that St. Joseph county has an exemption from the 1.5% cap on property tax for owner-occupied homes in the “2008 pay 2009” tax year? Where can I learn more about how that exemption operates? Any relevant news articles on the subject? Is the exemption going to continue for the “2009 pay 2010” tax year? Even if the resolution to put caps on property tax into the state constitution?

This news article (link pasted below) has the Indiana Senate Appropriations Chairman stating that “local governments and schools can hold referendums and let voters decide if the caps should be exceeded.” Is that how St. Joseph county got the exemption – voters let it happen? I’m a new resident in South Bend so I don’t know the recent history.



Nick Molnar December 3, 2009 at 3:14 pm

Yes. Two counties in Indiana have some exemption from the tax caps. They are Lake and St. Joseph Counties. These counties are able to exceed the caps for debt service on debt acquired before July 1st, 2008. Examples of such debt are school construction or bonds sold by a city to finance renovation projects. Because St. Joseph and Lake Counties have high levels of existing debt to service they are able to add the payments to the tax levy and exceed the caps. They have this exemption until 2020.

The wording on the tax bills / forms seems falsely innocent in this case, but the forms are used throughout the state – mostly in areas that are fully constrained by the caps – and refers to a section of HEA 1001 (the bill enacting the caps) which limits local government spending by requiring a referendum for school and local government projects that exceed certain amounts (for example over $20 million for a high school project).

You can see more about the caps and exemptions here and here.


Mr. T December 3, 2009 at 1:55 am

Oops – meant to write: Even if the resolution to put caps on property tax into the state constitution passes?


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