Jackson County assessor ‘million dollar mistake’ gives some homeowners a huge break on taxes

Jackson County assessor ‘million dollar mistake’ gives some homeowners a huge break on taxes
Published: Aug. 31, 2023 at 4:08 PM CDT
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - Just when you thought the stories around the Jackson County property tax assessment issues couldn’t get more fantastic, we have another.

KCTV5 Investigates has been poring over data related to the latest assessment and found a $1 million home getting a great deal on its tax bill.

It’s among 500 homes in the county assessed at the same value — $356,270. Homes of all shapes and sizes, all over the county.

We’ve talked with several homeowners about this oddly specific value. Most of them recently bought their homes for $100,000-$150,000.

But at least one homeowner likely isn’t looking to appeal their $356,270 assessment. They recently bought the house for more than $1 million.

We contacted the owners of the million-dollar home, but have not heard back. But it’s important to remember that the assessment is not the fault of the homeowner — it’s a data error.

But we did want to have a look at the home in person.

It’s spectacular — 6,000 square feet. The home sits on a four-acre lot and is a lakefront property. The official listing reveals it has four bedrooms and six bathrooms. It has an in-ground pool, a cabana, and a crystal chandelier in at least one bathroom

The county doesn’t want to talk about what we found, but a mass appraisal expert, and a data expert both call it an obvious mistake.

One Jackson County legislator agrees.

“What a mistake,” said Manny Abarca when we showed him photos of the home. “Disappointing—at least there’s a house on the property this time.”

ALSO READ: Jackson County homeowners record assessment department, turn over recordings to KCTV5

Abarca is referring to the two empty lots we found with that $356,270 assessment. One lot owner appealed and got the value corrected to $9,100. The other lot owner did not appeal because she thought her assessment notice was a scam letter because it was so outrageous.

We also showed a homeowner whose Independence home had been valued at that ever-popular $357,270.

“This is clearly an error,” said Melissa Ruby. “I mean look at the difference between that house and mine!” Ruby appealed her assessment and her house is now valued at $120,000.

We did find one important similarity among the 500 homes valued at $356,270; something a mass appraisal expert calls an important clue. All the homes we looked at were bought in December of last year.

“Really?” asked Ruby. “Did they just copy and paste the same number on everything sold in December?”

The county won’t admit there’s an error. The Jackson County Assessment Department is shifting the explanation to Tyler Technologies—the third-party vendor who helped in this assessment. We’ve reached out to them as well but they direct us back to the county.

ALSO READ: Jackson County Legislature asks state auditor to review tax assessments