Crunching your Jackson County property taxes for 2021 - what the numbers reveal

(KCTV5 News)
Updated: Jun. 11, 2021 at 10:25 PM CDT
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - Jackson County homeowners are likely breathing a sigh of relief with this year’s property assessments following a wild 2019 assessment which was criticized by experts and homeowners alike.

Property tax bills skyrocketed for some homeowner two years ago. The changes lacked in person inspections.

Four class-action were filed after the 2019 assessments, accusing the county of targeting poorer neighborhoods. State law has since changed. Now, any changes above 15% require a physical inspection.

Our investigation also revealed the county appeared to hedge their bets, increasing taxes 14.9% for 28% of all homeowners generally in the suburbs.

We went back to the data expert we talked to in our earlier reports. Preston Smith, and asked him to crunch this year’s number. He found a much more cautious assessment.

His research reveals Jackson County has significant progress to make before assessments reflect market value which is the goal of any property assessment.

Smith has been comparing actual sales with assessment records which reveals information is way off.

‘We have inaccuracies in this year’s assessment too, but in this case it benefits the tax payer,” said Smith.

Smith found that this year, 14.9% is no longer the favorite number.

“It’s like they deliberately avoided that number,” said Smith. “They know we were watching and they backed off.”

Sixty percent of homes saw less than a 10% increase, about a quarter saw increases between 10-15%. The only major changes involved renovations and construction. And some homes decreased in value.

Brace yourself for 2023

Jackson County assessment director Gail McCann Beatty explained this year’s assessments were more cautious and the county is spending $18 million in contracts with an outside company to provide more accurate future assessments.

The Jackson County legislature passed a resolution in March of 2020, stating property taxes should not increase due to COVID and ongoing problems in the assessment department.

However, that was only a recommendation. McCann Beatty says state law would not allow for her to ignore an assessment cycle and says with house values increasing like crazy, she wants homeowners prepared for 2023.

“We didn’t want to freeze values this year and then what are taxpayers going to do in 2023? We fear there are going to be some increases in 2023 as well. But, the impact could be significant or significantly worse if we froze values this year in a market as strong as we are facing right now,” McCann Beatty said.