questionsdo i have to pay a "school tax" if i rent a…

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are you sure this isn't some kind of tax on the stupid (those that don't realize it's a scam)? have you heard of any one else in your town ever getting this before? did any of your coworkers get this letter? has your landlord mentioned this to you? is there anything on this letter to make you think it might me legit? most taxes for school are collected on property tax, so this sounds really fly-by-night to me.

(NO, i wasn't calling you stupid. you have enough smarts to question it. it's those that just send in the payment without question i was calling stupid).

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I have always been told that school taxes are paid out of property taxes. In your case your landlord should pay them. I have not heard of anyplace doing separate "school " taxes. What state are you in?

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@drsilentg: "Tax on the stupid" made me laugh (thanks @moosezilla). I always thought that was the price of a lottery ticket.

You should turn those letters over to the local authorities. Also, call your favorite muckraking reporter on your favorite local newz channel. They love that kind of stuff.

Yes, this is a scam. Yes, the schools are paid for by property (or similar) tax, and it's just a cost of doing business to your landlord. Wonder how many people have gone for this?

[Edit] I see that @flyinggirl has your answer for you. You already paid it, hidden in your local tax bill.

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@shrdlu: emailed my local news. lets see what they say.

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I have no idea if this particular demand for school tax is a scam, but I was shocked when I moved to Ohio and received a separate tax bill for "school district tax." (In fact, I assumed it was scam and thew away the first notice!) As it turns out, schools are funded partly through property tax and partly through a 1% income tax called "school district tax." To a certain extent, it makes sense (as there isn't always a direct connection between someone's income and the value of their property, especially in rural counties), but it was very, very odd to me. To make things worse, one had to pay it both in the town where one worked and in the town where one lived. Some towns "refunded" to each other, so you only paid 1% to the place where you lived, but I ended up paying 1% to both.

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This school tax thing definitely sounds like a scam. Unless there is something very unusual about the tax structure in your town, the taxes for schools would be built into the property taxes that would be paid by the property owner. Presumably this cost would be factored into your rental price, but you would not be expected to pay it directly. Given the small amount of this "tax" in the letter it really smells like a scam since property taxes generally run thousands of dollars and are usually paid twice a year. I would definitely report this to the authorities. Even talk to the Post Office, since mail fraud seems to be involved.

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@neuropsychosocial: I was writing my response at the same time you were writing yours. Wow! a separate School District tax in Ohio. Please don't give the folks here in Washington State any ideas. The cleverness and greed of the parasites in government never ceases to amaze me. And, of course, the kids getting out of our public schools today cannot read or write and know very little -- but they feel good about it, since their self esteem is stroked daily.

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I am a property owner and I live in PA, so I get my school tax bill each year around this time. I have never rented nor do I know anyone who rents in my area right now to know whether renters pay school tax, but I do know in the letter I receive with the bill each year it says "Landlord Information - Local Ordinances require all Landlords to register rental property including name and address of tenants within 10 days of each move-in or move-out date. If you have any questions call the tax office at...". So you may want to call the local school district in your area to see if they have a tax on tenants.

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I always thought school taxes were paid with property taxes, meaning ownership of property.

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sounds like it could be legit, a tax on residents instead of property owners.
Seems fair since more and more people are renting these days... spread the pain around.

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I also live in PA and I was a renter for a long while. That $10 tax may be legit depending on where you live. The school district I used to live in has such a tax on everyone who works in it's district. The district I now reside in does not collect it. Best advice is "When in doubt, call and ask."

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Do you have to pay this "tax" via money order to King Ugabunga's only living daughter?

I'd call the town and a) make sure it's not a scam, and b) find out why you'd need to pay anything when you're a renter. Generally, this should be paid by a property owner based on the assessed value of their property.

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@kamikazeken: Except renters do pay property tax (plus included school taxes) as part of their rent. When the property owner sets the rent, he calculates it based on all the costs of the property, which is going to include mortgage, interest, taxes, insurance, maintenance, and vacancy periods between tenants. This is why people will generally pay a higher rent than mortgage bill for the same house. The mortgage is just one of the many costs associated with property ownership, and when a property owner rents their property they need to recover all these costs. It worries me as more and more people rent that they are prone to vote in favor of property tax increases without realizing that it is going to impact them just as much as those that own.

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@moondrake: I've been a landlord, and while all costs are taken into account, the single biggest factor in setting rent isn't what it costs to own the property, the biggest factor is what monthly rate the market will support. Many landlords actually rent for less than it costs them to won that property.

Spreading the taxes to include renters is a good idea since people who don't pay taxes directly typically don't care how money is spent.

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@kamikazeken: I agree. That's true for pretty much anything one is going to sell, though. When you are selling something, you have two "prices" to negotiate between, cost to produce the item, and what the market will bear. Generally, in order to make a profit, the market value must be higher than the cost. But in the case of real estate, the "cost" is actually inflated by the fact that the mortgage amount is paying off the purchase price on something with (presumably) lasting value. So you might take a "loss" renting out a property on which you still owe a mortgage, but it isn't really a loss, you are just contributing to the purchase price of the property rather than reassigning all of it. If it were a true cost assessment, you'd have to amortize the cost of purchase of the property over the entire expected life of the property and determine a monthly "cost" based on that, which should be much lower than the actual mortgage payment.