A Homeowner's Guide to Real Estate Property Tax
Why is property taxed in Kansas?
Your property tax dollars are used by the city and county governments to provide funding for roads, parks, fire protection, police protection, public schools, libraries, the health department, social assistance and many other local services.
What does my county appraiser do?
By law, your 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 in August by your city and county governments.
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 value goes down or does not change, it does not automatically mean you will pay less of the same amount of taxes. The real estate property tax you pay is a function of the property valuation AND the mill levy set by each local governing jurisdiction. Changes in property values do not change the amount of tax dollars needed for local public services.
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. Value may also go 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.
What value is my home appraised at for property tax purposes?
Your 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 outside influence.
How does my 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 building are taken into consideration. This approach works well for valuing new and unique properties.|
3. The Income Approach: simply, income from rent is used to value property. This method works well for income-producing properties (apartment buildings and shopping centers).|
Does the county appraiser visit my property?
State law requires the county to view and inspect the exterior of all the property in the county every four years.
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?
The "notice of value" on your property should be mailed by March 1st.
How can I determine if the appraisal of my home is accurate?
You can visit the county appraiser's office at 9400 State Avenue to review information on like 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.
What can I do if I believe that 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 thirty days of the mailing date of the notice (generally, March 30th), 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.
What is the mill levy?
The mill levy is the "tax rate" that is applied to the assessed value of your property. One mill is one dollar per $1,000 of assessed value. It consists of a local portion that is used to fund area services, and a statewide protion that is used to fund public schools.
When are property tax bills sent and when should they be paid?
The county treasurer mails tax bills on or before December 15th (usually the first part of November). All or at least half of the tax is due by December 20th, and the second half is due by May 20th 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.