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Your tax dollars are used by local government to provide funding for roads, parks, fire protection, police protection, health, and other services. Property taxes also fund public school districts. All property tax dollars received by the state are redistributed to public school districts or to education building funds.
By law, your county appraiser is responsible for listing and valuing property in a uniform and equal manner. The appraiser determines the appropriate value of your property. The amount of property taxes you pay depends on the budgets set by local government, special assessments, and an amount distributed to public schools.
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 or the same amount of taxes. Changes in property taxes are based in large part on how much your local government decides to spend on services each year.
The value of your property may change each year - it depends on market conditions, improvements to your property, etc. The county appraiser continually updates sale prices and other information on property all over the county.
Homes, commercial real property, and certain other property categories are appraised at "market value" as of 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. Agricultural land, certain motor vehicles, and commercial and industrial machinery and equipment are appraised using a value-based method, however, it is not "market value".
The appraiser determines the age, quality, location, condition, style, and size of the property. The appraiser then uses one or more of the following three methods to appraise property at "market value".
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.
The cost to replace your property is adjusted for age and condition. This approach works well for new and unique properties.
In general terms, income from rent is used to value property. This method works well for income-producing properties (for example, apartment buildings and malls).
State law requires your county appraiser to visually inspect 17% of all real property in the county every year and re-examine each property on a six-year cycle.
One sale by itself does not determine market value. In addition, inflation and other market conditions may affect the market value of your home as of January 1. The price you paid for your house is verified by the county appraiser and then considered along with sales of similar properties.
Notices of value are sent to the owner, as recorded in the register of deeds office, on or before March 1 for real property each year. It may be later than March 1 if your county appraiser asks for an extension. Refer to the Property Tax Calendar page for more information regarding due dates.
You can visit the county appraiser's office to review information on similar properties and verify that the information the appraiser's office has on your home is correct. If a neighbor has a similar house which recently sold, 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.
Use one of two ways to challenge the value of your property:
If you paid all your taxes prior to December 20th then the protest can be made no later than December 20th or by January 31st if paid out of an escrow account or by a tax service.
You cannot appeal your notice then pay under protest for the same property in the same tax year.
During the meeting, the appraiser will show how the appraised value was determined for your property. During or before the meeting, review the record on your property to be sure all the information such as age, style, and size is correct. You may also want to identify and review information the Appraiser's Office has on properties comparable to your own and sales of comparable properties. Residential owners who appeal successfully usually do so by finding comparable properties with lower market values or comparable properties that have recently sold for less than the value assigned to their property.
Please remember that the county appraiser is required to appraise property in a uniform and equal manner and should not be considered an adversary. The county does not receive more money by raising property values. The money needed for local services is set and budget hearings are held in August. Increases or decreases in property values do not change the amount of tax dollars needed for local services.
Example If the appraised value of your home is $50,000:
Due to 1998 state legislation, the tax bill on residential property (your home) will be reduced by up to $46 for the 1998 and 1999 tax years.
The mill levy is the tax rate that is applied to the assessed value. In general terms, the mill levy is determined by dividing the dollars needed for local services by the taxable assessed value in the service area. An additional amount of 20 mills is then added for public schools and 1.5 mills for an education building fund. After the local government budgets are published and meetings are completed in August of each year, the county clerk computes the final mill levies for each tax unit and certifies the tax roll to the county treasurer for collection.
Except for certain motor vehicles, property tax due on personal property is the responsibility of the owner of record January 1 of each year. For real property, if not addressed in private contract, the buyer is responsible for the property tax if the property is sold on or after January 1 and before November 1. The seller is responsible for the property tax if purchased on or after November 1 and prior to January 1. (KSA 79-1805) Private contracts between buyer and seller will often specify who pays the taxes.
Property is not prorated onto the tax roll when acquired and is not prorated off the tax roll when disposed of (KSA 79-309). However, private contracts between buyers and sellers will often prorate the property tax. The only exceptions to this are for motor vehicles and when taxable property becomes exempt or exempt property becomes taxable.