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A HOMEOWNER’S GUIDE TO PROPERTY TAX IN KANSAS

Why is property taxed in Kansas?
Your tax dollars are used by city, county and other taxing districts to provide funding for roads, health, parks, fire protection, police protection, and many other local services.  Property taxes also help fund local school districts.

What does my county appraiser do?
By law, the county appraiser is responsible for listing and valuing property in a uniform and equal manner.  The appraiser estimates only the value of your property.  The amount of taxes you pay depends on the budgets set by your city, county, school and other taxing districts.

How does the county’s appraisal affect my taxes?
If your property value goes up, it does not necessarily mean you will pay more taxes.  Likewise, if your property goes down or does not change, it does not automatically mean you will pay less or the same amount of taxes.  Your property taxes are based on how much the various taxing districts decide to spend on services each year.

Will the value of my property change every year?
The value of your property may change each year – it depends on several things.  If you make improvements to your home, such as adding a garage, the value may go up.  The value may also change (up or down) because of recent sales in your neighborhood.  The county appraiser continually updates sales prices and other information on homes all over the county.

At what value is my home appraised for property tax purposes?
The county appraiser appraises your home at “market value” as it exists the first day of January each year.  Market value is the amount of money a well-informed buyer would pay and a well-informed seller would accept for property in an open and competitive market without any influence. 

How does the county appraiser determine market value?
When valuing your home, the appraiser figures out what the age, quality, location, condition, style and size of your property is.  The appraiser then uses one or more of the following three methods to value your property:

  1. The Market Approach:  sales of similar property are compared to each other.  The appraiser then adjusts for differences (for example, one house may have more square footage than another).  This method works well for valuing homes.
  2. The Cost Approach:  age and what it would cost to replace your home are taken into consideration.  This approach works well for new and unique properties.
  3. The Income Approach:  in simple terms, income from rent is used to value property.  This methods works well for income producing properties (for example, apartment buildings and malls).

Does the county appraiser visit my property?
State law requires the county appraiser to visually inspect 17% of all property in the county every year and to re-examine each piece of property on a six-year cycle.

If I bought my house last year, shouldn’t the value be the same as what I paid for it a year ago?
Not necessarily.  One sale by itself does not determine market value. The price you paid for your home is first verified by the county appraiser and then pooled with sales of similar homes.  The appraiser uses this information to value your home.  Also, market conditions may have changed in the last year.

When will I be notified of the value of my property?
You should receive the “notice of value” on your home (land and buildings) from the county appraiser by March 1.  If your county appraiser asks the state for an extension, it may be later than March 1 before you get your notice of value.

How can I determine the value of my home is too high?
You can visit the county appraiser’s office to review information on similar sales and verify that the information the appraiser’s office has on your property is correct.  If a neighbor has a similar house for sale, the sale price may also give you an indication of the value of your house.  In addition, real estate professionals can provide information about market conditions in your area.

What can I do if I believe the value of my home is too high?
There are two ways to challenge the value of your home:

  • you may appeal the “notice of value” of your home by contacting the county appraiser’s office by phone or in writing within 30 days after receiving your “notice of value”, or
  • you may fill out a “payment under protest” form with the county treasurer at the time you pay your taxes.  If an escrow or tax service agent pays your property taxes, then protest no later than January 31st.

You cannot appeal using both methods for the same property in the same tax year.  So, if you start to appeal your “notice of value,” be sure that you follow through with the appeal.  You will not be allowed to “pay under protest” later.

If you are not satisfied with the results of your appeal at the county level, the next step in the appeals process is to take your case to the Kansas Court of Tax Appeals.  For more information on appeals, please contact your local county appraiser’s office.

What is the mill levy?
The mill levy is the “tax rate” that is applied to the assessed value of your property.  It consists of a local portion which is used to fund area services and statewide portion which is used to fund state institutions.  The Legislature and Governor reduced the local school general fund levy from 35 mills to 27 mills beginning in 1997.  In addition, the first 20,000 in appraised value of your home is exempt from the school general fund mill levy.

How do I calculate the property taxes on my home?
Follow these simple steps:

  1. Look at your “notice of value”, find the “appraised value” of your home.  Multiply the appraised value by the “assessment percentage” 11.5%.
                                         
    (appraised value)   X        .115=             (assessed value)
     
  2. Multiply the assessed value by your “mill levy” and then divide by 1,000 to estimate the property tax you owe.  Contact your county clerk to find out what your mill levy is.
    _____________   _______ ________

    (assessed value)X(mill levy)divided by 1000   =   (tax bill)
     
  3. Effective beginning with tax year 1998, the first $20,000 in appraised value of your home is exempt from the 20 mill statewide portion of the mill levy.  For example, if the appraised value of your home is $20,000 or more, the amount your tax bill will be reduced is calculated as follows:
    Appraised Value                     Assessment %                  Assessed Value
         20,000  X                                   .115  =                                2,300

    Assessed Value    Statewide Portion of the mill levy    Amount to subtract from tax bill
         2,300  X                (20 mills / 1.000) =                                          $ 46.00 

Note: If your home is appraised for less than 20,000 simply use your appraised value instead of the 20,000 appraised values and follow the same procedures as shown in the above example.  Please refer to the mill levy question and call your local county clerk or appraiser’s office if you have any questions regarding this exemption.

When are property tax bills sent an when should they be paid?

The county treasurer mails tax bills on or before December 15th.  All or at least half of the tax due by December 20th and the second half is due by May 10th of the following year.  If you have a mortgage loan on your property, you will receive a statement with tax information on it.  Your tax bill will be sent to the mortgage company or bank, and the tax will be paid out of your escrow account.

Do I qualify for a homestead property tax refund?

The Kansas Homestead Refund Act provides a refund to Kansans who own their homes or pay rent and meet ONE of the following three requirements:

1) you must have been 55 years of age or older on January 1; or,

2) you must have been totally and permanently disabled or blind during the entire year, regardless of age; or, 

3) you must have had one or more dependent children residing with you the entire year, regardless of your age.  At least one dependent child must have been born on or before January 1 of the tax year in question and must have been 18 years of age the entire year.

In addition, you must meet ALL the following requirements:

1) you must have lived in Kansas for the entire year; and

2) your total household income must have not been more than $31,300; and

3) you must have owned or rented the home you lived in or you must have lived in a nursing home where property taxes were paid during the tax year; and

4) you must not owe any delinquent taxes on your home, or if you are filing under the renter’s provision, the rental property must be on the tax rolls; and

5) your property tax or rent must not have been paid from public funds on your behalf directly to the county treasurer or landlord for the tax year.

If you meet the qualifications, you must file with the Kansas Department of Revenue Homestead Section between January 1 and April 15 in order to receive a refund.  If you would like additional information, call the Kansas Department of Revenue at (785) 296-0222 or contact your local county offices or the Geary County Clerk’s office for assistance