If you have $1 million to spend on a house you will pay more in property taxes in Wilton than you will in any of these other area towns: Darien, Fairfield, Greenwich, New Canaan, Ridgefield or Westport.
That’s because a $1-million home — with an assessed value of about $700,000 — carries an approximate tax bill of $18,781 compared to $7,890 in Greenwich, the town with the lowest mill rate; $10,745 in Darien; or $11,190 in New Canaan. In Westport, a $1-million house would cost you $12,663 in property taxes this fiscal year, $17,353 in Fairfield, and $18,207 in Ridgefield.
These property tax amounts are determined by the towns’ mill rates, which are reported by the state of Connecticut’s website CT.gov.
Assessed values are 70% of the estimated market value, so a home with an assessment of $700,000 would have a market value of $1 million.
Tax rates, known as mill rates, are set by towns in order to raise the revenue they need to cover the costs of town government. The mill rate is the amount a property owner is charged in tax for every $1,000 of assessed property value they own in town. Since a $700,000 assessment has 700 thousand-dollar units, Wilton’s mill rate of 26.83 for fiscal year 2016 multiplied by 700 brings the tax bill to $18,781.
A primary factor in determining a town’s mill rate, other than the amount of money needed to run the town, is how much taxable property is in the town. The sum of the assessed value of all taxable property in a town is known as the grand list. This list is compiled each year by the tax assessor.
If all towns needed to raise the same amount of money, say $100 million, the town with the largest grand list would have the lowest mill rate — the factor needed to raise the $100 million — and the town with the lowest grand list would have the highest mill rate.
Of course towns do not have the same size budgets. In the accompanying chart comparing seven towns in the area, Wilton has the lowest grand list and the highest mill rate and thus the highest tax bill on a $700,000 assessed value property. Greenwich has the highest grand list and the lowest tax bill on a $700,000 assessed property.
Towns with even smaller grand lists have even higher mill rates. That $1-million house would cost the following in taxes:
- Redding — 28.91 mill rate: $20,237
- Weston — 28.67 mill rate: $20,069