Seal of Dane County County of Dane
Dane County Treasurer's Office

Property Tax 101




The value a local municipal assessor places on property to establish the proportional relationship of tax burden between properties within a municipality

Wisconsin Department of Revenue (publications)

  • Guide for Property Owners
  • Property Assessment for Municipal Officials
  • Property Assessment Manual
  • Board of Review Member Guide & FAQs

January 1: Municipal Assessor determines property values

  • The property tax process begins with assessments, which are conducted by the local municipal assessor for the City, Town, or Village.
  • In rural areas, the classification can be important because of the different rate of assessment value placed on agricultural land, undeveloped land, and forest land.

Spring/Summer: Municipal Open Book & Board of Review

  • When assessments are determined for the year (typically March or later), property owners are sent a Notice of Assessment from the local assessor to tidentify property Values and Classifications.
    • Open Book: property owners can discuss assessments with the assessor
    • Board of Review: property owners can appeal assessments in a quasi-judicial setting
  • After Board of Review, it would normally be too late for the property owner to appeal the assessed property value for the given year.


Taxes Due

Tax Year:

The calendar year in which January 1 assessments are determined and December tax bills are prepared with due dates the following calendar year

  • Fall: Wisconsin taxing districts (municipalities, schools, counties, etc.) set budgets
  • December: property taxes calculated based on each individual property assessment and levies of the overlying taxing jurisdictions
  • 3rd Monday of December:
    • Tax bills calculated & mailed by the local municipality 
    • AccessDane website updated with new tax information
  • January 31: first due date; payable to the local municipality
  • July 31: final due date; payable to Dane County, EXCEPT for properties in the City of Madison*

Basic calculation:

  • Assessment x Mill Rate = Total Taxes
  • Total Taxes – Lottery Credit – First Dollar Credit = Net Property Taxes
  • Net Property Taxes + All Special Assessments and Special Charges = Tax Bill

Collection statistics:

  • Approximately 30% of taxpayers pay the full amount in December.
  • Approximately 40% of taxpayers pay the full amount in January.
  • Approximately 30% of taxpayers pay in installments.

Timely payment is determined by the postmark affixed by the US Postal Service. If at least the installment amount is not paid by the due date listed on the tax bill and the taxes become delinquent, the following occurs:

  1. The full amount comes due immediately.
  2. A combined monthly interest and penalty of 1.5% of the unpaid principal is added back to February 1.
    • This charge accrues at the beginning of each month until the bill (principal, interest, and penalty) is paid in-full.
    • If a property owner is late with the final installment, the monthly interest and penalty still goes back February 1, which means an August interest and penalty of 7 months (7 x 1.5% = 10.5%).
    • Each month afterward, the outstanding principal balance is charged another 1.5%


More Information:

Glossary of County & Local Treasurer Terminology
Wisconsin County Treasurers' Association - English
Wisconsin County Treasurers' Association - Español



*The City of Madison has intermediate installments, and payments for properties within the City of Madison are collected by the City Treasurer through the July 31 due date. Information regarding City of Madison due dates and amounts for the current tax year can be obtained by contacting the City of Madison Treasurer:

City of Madison Treasurer
City-County Building
210 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Rm 107
Madison, WI 53703-3342
(608) 266-4771
City of Madison Treasurer's Website