History of Property Taxation

The property tax is one of the oldest taxes on record.  There is evidence it was in use in ancient China.  In 1742, New Hampshire instituted the first property tax in the United States.  Today it is used extensively throughout the world as a primary revenue source for local governments.

One big advantage of the property tax is its stability.  While other taxes, such as the sales tax tend to fluctuate with changes in the marketplace, the property tax remains among the most stable sources of revenue because property values seldom decrease.

The property tax also promotes the concept that the cost of services rendered is shared more equitably among property owners who receive those services, since the tax bill is in proportion to value of their property.

Year to year, in Sumner County, property taxes make up a significant portion of the tax revenue collected.  Property tax revenues are used to pay for many essential government services, such as police and fire protection, schools, libraries, the justice system and public works projects.

Tennessee's property tax was authorized by the 1796 Constitution to be based on the market value of property.  However, because not all counties appraised property the same way, the appraisal process was challenged in federal court in the 1960s.

As one major result, the law was changed to provide more frequent reappraisals to ensure equity for all taxpayers.  Sumner County, and other major urban areas, is on a four or six-year reappraisal cycle.

This has moved us coser to the goal of equity where taxes are based on the true market value of property and the values are maintained in a more current manner.