KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -- Bunny Coker was stunned by her latest property tax assessment.
The 77-year-old’s home value double from $24,217 to $58,386, meaning her taxes jumped from $472.33 TO $1,084.73
“I nearly fainted,” she said. “I mean, my god, how am I going to pay that?”
Coker lives on social security and takes in about $1,000 a month. She says there’s no way she can pay that kind of bill and completely disagrees with her homes value.
KCTV5 News spoke with relator Curtis Jay to see if the county assessed her home correctly. He also had a few steps homeowners need to follow in order to contest their assessments.
STEP 1: KNOW YOUR VALUE
The county needs information to change property values. Homeowners need to find recent sales in in their neighborhoods. A relator is one option, but they can also search online listing sites like Redfin.com.
Homeowners can also check current sales. Those won’t hold the same weight, but if a house has sat on the market for an extended period, residents can argue that is ceiling for value.
It might be worth it to hire an appraiser.
Jay looked up values in the Ruskin Heights neighborhood where Coker lives. He noticed they were all over the place, but some recent sales were rather low.
STEP 2: TAKE A CRITICAL LOOK AT YOUR HOUSE AND PROPERTY
The next step is to take pictures and evaluate any major problems or needed upgrades.
The county used a computer program and satellite photos to determine the values of home, So this is where homeowners can really make good arguments.
KCTV5 News helped Coker create a list of 15 fair points that the assessor should consider. Her house does not have central air, and it has older wiring and switches. There is also no basement, and her sewer backs up.
KCTV5 made a list and took pictures of damaged counters in the kitchen as well as the vintage pink bathtub.
All of these factors could lower the value of the home.
STEP 3: PRESENT IT TO THE COUNTY
Homeowners can call in information at 816-881-4601 or fax it 816-881-1403.
The best way to get the information out, though, is to email everything directly to the county at InformalReview@JacksonGov.org. The county has some tips at JacksonGov.org for homeowners contesting the assessment.
The deadline for an informal review process is Monday June 24.
Residents who don’t like the county response can go before the County Board of Equalization. They will need all of the same information. If that doesn’t work, they can take it to the state level.
Jay considered sales in the neighborhood and looked at the needed upgrades to Coker’s property, determining that a reasonable sale price would be the low $40,000’s. He suggested a fair tax value of $38,000.
Coker plans to send in the pictures, list of considerations and comps to the county. She already sent in a request for an informal hearing.
STEP 4: TAX RELIEF
Coker could also request to make payments under the quad payment program because she is a senior citizen. Anyone else wanting to use this program just needs to call the county assessor’s office.
There is also a Missouri tax credit she should check out. Attorney Mandy Shell says many homeowners don’t know about the credit or that they can actually go back several years to recoup that money.
STEP 5: CONTACT THE COUNTY
Many homeowners are furious with the incredible spikes in property values and taxes.
KCTV5 News has heard from many people who have seen double and triple in property taxes. One family even shared their bill showing a 473% jump.
There were also homes found where owners were paying a fraction of the taxes they should pay because they sold the properties for $750,000 while the tax rate was in the $200,000’s.
Jackson County Director of Assessments Gail McCann Beatty said she was shocked at the spikes but noted she’s compelled to follow the law.
She indicated a conversation may need to take place about how to change the law so the same thing doesn’t happen in Jackson County again.
“I am not happy this happened,” McCann Beatty said. “But I did what the statute says I had to do.”
Homeowners who want to contact their county legislators or county executive Frank White about the assessments can do so at JacksonGov.org.