Assessing Your Assessment
Like most things in life, the current state of the housing market is a mixed bag. Historically low interest rates and affordable choices make buying easier, but today’s sellers are often getting less than they might have gotten if they had sold their home five or six years ago. For those of you who aren’t currently in the market to buy or sell, seeing a slide in your home’s value can cause your spirits to sink as well. Values may be gaining traction, as we see in the recent uptick of home appreciation in the Kansas City region, but we’ve got a ways to go before we bounce back to the highs we saw a few years ago. In the meantime, keep in mind that if your home’s value has decreased, your property assessment should too. And that’s not likely to happen without a nudge from you. If you feel your property taxes are higher than they should be, you have the right to appeal.
Mistakes on Record
Your first step is to determine whether your home’s inflated valuation is the result of an error in the historical records used by the assessor. One way to do this is to compare a recent appraisal with the assessment. Is the square footage noted on the assessment larger than the actual size of the house? Does the assessment show too many bathrooms? If so, you may have solid grounds for appeal.
How I Can Help
If you’re satisfied with the records used by the assessor but believe the assessment value is still too high, start looking at comparable houses in your neighborhood. I can help by showing you the data on nearby homes similar in size and age. If they have a lower assessed value than your home, chances are yours should too. If, however, comparable houses have been recently renovated and yours has not, this may be artificially driving up the assessed value of your home. A few photographs might support your argument.
As much as 60 percent of the nation’s taxable property may be overassessed, reports MSNBC. If you want to get a fair shake when it comes time to pay your property tax, here are the steps you need to take.
For Johnson County:
Once you receive your official Notice of Appraised Value in March, fill out the form on back within 30 days to schedule an informal hearing. Before your hearing, make sure to gather any documentation that bolsters your claim, such as a recent appraisal, photographs of structural damage, or data on recent sales of comparable homes in your area.
An alternative to appealing the spring notice is to wait until your tax bill arrives in the fall. If using the Payment Under Protest method, or PUP, contact the treasurer’s office for the appropriate form. You still need to mail in your payment with the appeal form; if you present a strong case at your informal hearing, you may receive a refund on the taxes you already paid. Check the website for deadlines if an escrow agent handles your taxes.
For Jackson County:
Your appeal must be filed before July 9, 2012. The forms are not available online, but you may request one by calling 816-881-3309 or by visiting the Kansas City Courthouse at 415 E. 12th Street, Room 102 or the Independence Courthouse at 308 W. Kansas.
For Wyandotte County:
Like Johnson County, Wyandotte County offers taxpayers the opportunity to appeal their assessment when it is mailed in March, or to file a PUP after your tax bill arrives. For forms, click here.