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What Is an Apportionment?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 13 October 2014
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In terms of finances, apportionment refers to the distribution or allocation of benefits or liabilities to recipients. The idea behind apportionment is to take available resources and assign them in a manner that is within any legal standards that may apply. The process of assigning apportion can be applied to a wide range of financial situations.

One example of the use of apportioning is in the collection of taxes. While exact methods vary, governments will normally assess or apportion taxes based on criteria that are applicable to every citizen of the jurisdiction. Within the process of tax apportionment, the citizen is responsible for paying those taxes within a given time frame, or will face penalties that may include heavy fines on the outstanding balance due or possibly imprisonment.

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The concept of apportionment can also come into play with the leasing of property. In situations where the tenant is forced to quit the property due to some type of natural disaster, he or she may be entitled to an apportionment of the rent due on the property. For example, if the property were partially or completely flooded as the result of a natural disaster, a court may find that the tenant is not liable for rent. This is because the property can no longer be utilized for the living space or whatever other reason that led to the original lease agreement. In other words, the apportion to the tenant is that no rent is due on the property, regardless of what type of lease agreement had been in force at the time of the natural disaster.

However, that same court may also find that the owner of the property is due some amount or apportion of any rents that were due up to the time of the natural disaster. This is usually true when rental fees are seen as accruing on a daily basis. If the natural disaster occurred on the fifteenth of the month, a court may determine that the tenant owes the owner an apportionment of roughly one half the standard monthly rental, since the property was used for its intended purpose for half the month. This application of the rule of apportionment means that both the tenant and the owner are treated justly under the current terms of law.

In all its applications, the goal of apportionment is to assign resources in a manner that is considered to be fair and in the best interests of all parties concerned. Over the years, governments at all levels have created apportion acts that are intended to protect the rights of all parties involved in transactions. As is true in most countries, any state apportionment laws must be in compliance with federal laws in order to be binding. If a given state law is considered in conflict with federal law, then the national rules of apportion will apply.

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