About 100 people crowded the Jackson County legislative meeting hall Monday for a public hearing on property assessments.

Some answers to your property tax questions

“If you feel like you can’t sell your property for the value that we have it appraised for, then please come and see us.”

By Kathy Feist

By the time several residents of Jackson County had finished their testimonials before the Jackson County Legislature on Monday, there was nary a dry eye in the house. Testimony after testimony bemoaned the exorbitant increases in property tax assessments. While the tax burden is especially difficult for those on a fixed income, those with families also felt vulnerable. A Blue Springs man testified that his valuation had gone up 74%, a total of 300% since 2019. “We expected to raise our four daughters in that house,” he said. 

The legislators listened, took note of any concerns or questions and promised to present them to the county’s director of assessments Gail McCann Beatty in the legislative meeting that followed the public testimony. 

Here are some highlights from those questions:

Excessive outrage?

The County Assessor’s department is seeing about 250 appeals a day since June 15 when most property owners received their assessments. While that may seem excessive, McCann Beatty says it is within the norm. “At noon (June 26), we had 12,143 appeals. That is approximately 4% of our total parcels that have appealed in comparison to 2019 when we had 22,000 appeals which represented 7.3% of our total parcels (300,000). St. Louis County, which is the largest county in the state, is estimating that they’re going to have 33,000 appeals that represents just over 8% of their total parcel. So we’re not out of line.”  Property owners have until July 10 to appeal the assessment.

What you must prove

McCann Beatty’s bottom line:  “I encourage people, if you feel like you can’t sell your property for the value that we have it appraised for, then please come and see us.”

Gail McCann Beatty testifies at Monday’s meeting as County Legislator Jalen Anderson looks on. Photo by Kathy Feist

The deadline

The new deadline is July 31 to file an appeal.  You do not have to have your appeal heard by July 31 and you do not have to have all of your support documentation by then either, according to McCann Beatty.  This year real estate brokers are on hand at the county office to help gather support documentation. Virtual appointments are also available.  County legislators  extended the July 10 deadline to July 31. 

Why were the county assessments late?

The county assessor has from March to June 15 to send out property valuations, which allows for more property owners to appeal. This year, the assessments were sent out by June 15, allowing less than a month for the appeal process. (There is a class action lawsuit in this regard.) 

McCann Beatty says the delay was due to changing the outdated software program with a newer one while at the same time implementing a parcel-by-parcel review of 300,000 properties, which hadn’t been done in 10 to 20 years. “We should have put a parcel-by-parcel review off another cycle,” she said.

Is there relief for seniors?

The State Legislature recently passed Senate Bill 190, which allows for property taxes to be frozen for those eligible for Social Security retirement benefits. The credit would equal the difference between the amount of tax owed the current year minus the tax owed the previous year. Each Missouri county must ask voters to authorize the credit. 

Missouri also has a property tax rebate available for property owners over 65 years of age or disabled (and your income is not too high).  The name of the rebate is MO-PTC

Tips on filing

After you file your appeal, be persistent on follow up and be sure to request a BOE docket, according to Preston Smith, who sat on the Jackson County Board of Equalization for 14 years and has written a 130-page step by step guide on “How to Appeal Your Taxes.” 

For research, you will need to gather comparable home sales (comps) to your home and within a one-mile radius. 

Before your hearing, Smith recommends filing under the Sunshine Law to find the information the county used to assess your house. 

You should also take photos of your home and the condition it is in that might decrease the assessed value. 

Once your hearing arrives, Smith offers this advice (taken from his handbook):

What to Say at Your Appeal

The first question you will be asked is, “What do you think your property is worth?” You need to have a firm number in your mind, backed up by the research that you have submitted. After you give your number, then you explain how you arrived at it:

  • “The appraisal shows $$$$.”
  • “The comp sales that I have submitted show $$$$”
  • “And let me point out the problems with the County’s data….”

What NOT to Say at Your Appeal

“My neighbor’s house is just like mine and they’re on the tax rolls for half my value you have me assessed.” State law prohibits you from saying this in your appeal.

Finally, keep your presentation within five minutes and do not get into an argument with the BOE. 

Smith, who ran for county executor last year, says the property tax increases should have been incremental, such as 5%every two years. “It would not have been a shock to everyone’s system,” he says. 

Smith’s self-help guide is available by email at pvsmith@sbcglobal.net.

(A Town Hall Meeting regarding SB 190, legislation to cap property tax increases to 2%, and paying your taxes under protest will be held on July 15 at 2 pm at the Colonial Presbyterian Church, 9500 Wornall.)


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