Jackson County residents are still reeling over shocking increases in the assessed value of their property but they also need to look ahead at pending tax levies.

For the past couple of months, folks have been pretty irate with Jackson County Tax Assessor Gail McCann Beatty. Probably even her dog is mad at her these days.

She’s the target of angst from Jackson County property owners who were at first shocked, then downright angry, about the increase in their assessed property value.

As Jackson County’s appointed county assessor, her role in the county’s taxation process is to determine the value of your home. However, her role is just one part of the taxation process. The other part of the process is done by the governing body of the taxing authorities – i.e., the school district, county legislature, city council, etc. Your tax rate is typically stated as a dollar rate per $1,000 of your assessed property. For example, a taxing authority could set their tax levy at $1.00 per $1,000 of value, the assessor determines your property’s worth.

Those who remember their math see there’s two parts to the equation – “assessed value X tax levy = tax due.” 

If the overall assessed property value in a taxing jurisdiction goes up significantly, as it may this year in Jackson County, the taxing authorities/districts can simply lower the tax levy or tax rate. In fact, by Missouri state law, most taxing authorities are not allowed to pocket a windfall from a major increase in assessed values.

By law taxing authorities can only increase tax collections for their operating budgets by a rate less than inflation, and then never by more than 5%. This year, taxing authorities are allowed to increase their tax collections by just 1.9%. NOTE TO TAXPAYERS, taxing authorizers can actually hold tax levies even (zero increase) or decrease them!!

Beatty and other assessors across the state are under a lot of pressure from the Missouri State Tax Commission to keep the overall assessed property value for their counties within 10% of the true market value – what homes are actually selling for. Assessors who don’t get their assessed values up to 90% or greater of their real value are noted as out of compliance.

Jackson County was one of 24 Missouri Counties – out of 114 –out of compliance. In general, the counties out of compliance were those in the state’s larger urban areas and the counties around them, as well as counties in vacation areas like Branson and the Lake of the Ozarks.

In addition to trying to get assessed values up to market value, Beatty said she tried to address some inequities in appraisals that she inherited from her predecessor. Some areas were under-assessed while others were over-assessed.

If you’re one of those who was under-assessed, you weren’t carrying your weight. However, you don’t want to be one of those who is over-assessed. If you believe that’s the case, make sure you appeal your appraisal.

The time frame to file an appeal to your appraisal has been extended to Sept. 3. If you’re not sure how, or believe you need help, the Kansas City Public Library has set up meetings where individuals wanting to file a property tax appeal can receive help from Legal Aid of Western Missouri.

The remaining dates and locations are: Tues., Aug. 27, 8:30 – 11:30 a.m. at the Aldo Branch Library, 201 E. 75th St. and Thurs., Aug. 29, 2-4 p.m. at the Westport Branch, 118 Westport Rd.

So far 30,000 Jackson County property owners have filed appeals.

But remember, the really big challenge is to make sure local taxing authorizers hold the line on tax rates.

Since 1996, Bonita has served as as Editor-in-Chief of The Community Voice newspaper. As the owner, she has guided the Wichita-based publication’s growth in reach across the state of Kansas and into...

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