My husband says, "Did you see we received the property tax assessment on the house today?". Yes, I did see that form. As a real estate agent, I'm especially aware of our home's property tax value. But when these notices go out, it also means I'll be hearing from past customers regarding how to fight property tax assessments, especially in this distressed housing market. I often hear from senior citizens, concerned that their home is not worth what the county says it is...which is usually true.
If you feel your property tax assessment is too high, you can appeal to the county assessor's office. Everyone I know who has appealed did get their taxes reduced. Yes, it's a bit of a hassle and can be time-consuming--but ultimately, it may be worth it. Our taxes have been reduced the past few years based on lower property values and we didn't even have to fight the assessment. Today, the Kansas City Star wrote an editorial about dropping home values and what it means for the tax collectors. Just checking sales in the MLS for zip 64113, the average price of a home in 2009 was $338,445. In 2010, it dropped to $297,331.
In Jackson County, appeals must be filed by July 11, 2011. You can get an appeal form by calling 816 881 3309 or, pick one up at the Kansas City courthouse or Independence courthouse (I did not see them online--why not??). The process is explained in detail at www.jacksongov.org, click on Departments, then Assessment Appeals. One frustrating aspect of the forms sent out last week was it doesn't give you an estimated tax amount that will be due--only the estimated value of your home. The actual bill comes in December.
Remember that the county is concerned about the 'question of market value' and that's what you are arguing, not the specific tax amount. If you 'win', your tax amount will be reduced. The documentation needed to support your case can include an appraisal (can be expensive at $350-$400), a recent sales contract and/or documentation regarding recent home sales in your immediate area. That's where an agent can help you--by providing information from the MLS on sales in your area. If the county has your house valued at $400,000, yet comparable sales are in the $300,000 range--you have a legitimate case for a lower tax bill.
If you would like a list of comparable sales for your area--email me and I'll be glad to help!