The University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Tennessee County Municipal Advisory Service

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Personal Property

Reference Number: MTAS-528
Tennessee Code Annotated
Reviewed Date: October 15, 2015
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Tangible Personal Property Tax
Tangible personal property is subject to the property tax, but the state constitution provides an exemption for personal clothing, household goods, and furnishings (Article II, Section 28).

The system for reporting personal property relies largely on the initiative of the individual taxpayer. Consequently, in the past there have been significant differences in the extent of reporting and payment of personal property taxes in different counties across the state. Legislative enactments over the past several years have made the system more uniform. For example, T.C.A. § 67-5-215(b) was repealed in 1984. It authorized county governing bodies to place a zero value on tangible personal property owned by businesses subject to the Business Tax Law. The legislature also closed a loophole that allowed leased personal property to escape taxation. T.C.A. § 67-4-702(a)(7), T.C.A. §§ 67-5-502, 901. The same act established statewide depreciation schedules for valuing industrial personal property. T.C.A. § 67-5-903. The act also requires the state board of equalization to direct that commercial and industrial tangible personal property assessments are equalized with real property in each county by applying the county’s real property appraisal ratio to the depreciated value of the taxpayer’s personal property. T.C.A. § 67-5-1509.

Intangible Personal Property Tax
The constitution allows taxing stocks, bonds, and other intangible personal property. Intangible personal property is classified and assessed as the legislature directs. Banks and other financial institutions may be taxed in such manner as the legislature provides, and these taxes are in lieu of the property tax on shares of stock, customers' accounts, or any other type of tangible property (Article II, Section 28). Cities do not tax intangible property. However, they do receive a share of the Hall income tax (see later section entitled "Hall Income Tax"), as well as revenue from property taxes on tangible property having no actual situs in this state paid by utilities and carriers and distributable to counties, municipalities, and taxing districts. T.C.A. § 67-5-1325.

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