Jackson County man's taxes go up after he appeals his tax rate - KCTV5

Jackson County man's taxes go up after he appeals his tax rate

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Doug Fielder is on the homeowners’ association of Mission Lake in Jackson County where there are 255 townhomes. Some have different floor plans, of course, but the people living in them also pay very different property taxes. (KCTV5) Doug Fielder is on the homeowners’ association of Mission Lake in Jackson County where there are 255 townhomes. Some have different floor plans, of course, but the people living in them also pay very different property taxes. (KCTV5)
JACKSON COUNTY, MO (KCTV) -

You might want to knock on your neighbor’s door and compare notes on how much you pay in property taxes after hearing one local man’s story.

Doug Fielder is on the homeowners’ association of Mission Lake in Jackson County where there are 255 townhomes. Some have different floor plans, of course, but the people living in them also pay very different property taxes.

Fielder made a spreadsheet for his entire neighborhood and, after realizing he pays more than his neighbors, is questioning why certain people pay certain amounts.

Fielder moved to Jackson County from California, where property taxes made sense to him. There, what you pay for a home directly determines your tax assessment rate.

For example, if you buy a $100,000 home in Oceanside, California, you’d pay $1,125 in taxes. However, it’s not that simple in Jackson County.

In Jackson County, construction permits, property sales, and computer-assisted mass appraisal techniques are reviewed. Which sounds rather comprehensive until one realizes that some people get lucky while others pay more.

Fielder made his spreadsheet using public records and analyzed the tax assessments by square footage.

People pay an average of 95 cents per square foot, but some people pay as little as 43 cents. One person even pays $1.57. Fielder said, “Maybe they've got gold faucets inside, I don't know!”

Fielder showed KCTV5 News around his neighborhood to show how there’s no consistent pattern.

Two homes are 335 feet apart on Charlotte Street. Google Maps said it’s a one-minute walk. However, one has a tax bill of $1.40 per square foot and the larger home is .54 cents per square foot.

What about homes that are almost the same size on the same street? Well, on 121st Terrace, one home is $1.15 per square foot and a few steps away a home the same size is .58 cents.

The assessments matter because it determines your final tax bill. When someone pays $873 and someone else in the same neighborhood is paying $2,154, that’s quite a spread.

Fielder tried to make sense of how the tax rates could be so different, but his numbers guy never cracked the code.

“I could have left that whole thing alone,” Fielder explained. “It's just that I reached the mentality that ‘that’s not right and someone needs to look at it.’”

Fielder was paying .89 cents a square foot.

Fielder then did something he now regrets; he decided to approach the Board of Equalization to talk taxes. That board is who you can appeal to if you think your tax rate is unfair.

When asked why he went in and said anything if he was right in the middle, he said it was because he didn’t feel that it was “fair for some people to pay less and some more!”

After he went to the board, his rate went up from .89 cents per square foot to $1.16.

Now, only 17 homes pay more than him and he’s in the top 10 percent for taxes.

When asked if he felt like he was punished, he said, “I have no way to go with this, except to put it out there.”

Fielder is now appealing his appeal to the state, which takes place Wednesday.

KCTV5 News will let you know what is decided as we continue digging into property taxes across Jackson County.

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