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Why do we pay personal property taxes in Arkansas?

Personal property taxes are a law that spans back to 1874. The law has changed in the time since, but why do we pay these taxes and where does the money go?

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — An Arkansas law that feels as old as the postal service itself-- paying your personal property tax. 

It's a law that dates back to the 19th century and it's one that Bentley Hovis, Pulaski County Chief Deputy Treasurer, is pretty familiar with.

“The simple answer is we are required by the state’s constitution," Hovis said. "That document goes back to 1874, so in Arkansas we do our taxes a little different than other states." 

Obviously, there have been changes in what pieces of property are taxed since the 1870s where it consisted of wagons and buggies. 

“Today the legislature has determined it’s your cars, it’s your boat trailers, your boats, your ATVs,” Hovis said.

The history behind the personal property tax is interesting but one of the more frequent questions that we received is -- where does this money go?

“About 64-65% of it goes to public schools. Another 19% of it will go to the cities. Little Rock, North Little Rock, Sherwood, [etc.] Finally, the county’s part of that is about 10-11%," he said.

Now these numbers can vary depending on what county you live in, depending on the millage rate of your school district. 

“We follow the law. We don’t make up the tax amounts. We go on what the voters approved for us to tax,” Hovis said. 

Finally, a friendly reminder to pay your personal property tax by Oct. 17t this year to avoid receiving a late fee.

“Paying your taxes does matter. Like I said, it funds our schools, our cities, our jails, I could go on and on," he said.

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