Property taxes: Who pays and who gets lucky

You buy a home, and you’ll pay taxes. But if you live in Jackson County, it’s a lot like roulette. Just spin the wheel, and you may land high or low. (KCTV5)

Nobody like property taxes, but it’s part of life.

You buy a home, and you’ll pay taxes. But if you live in Jackson County, it’s a lot like roulette. Just spin the wheel, and you may land high or low.

Doug Fielder discovered his property taxes were higher than some his neighbors so he officially appealed to the county, and that made things worse.

"Something is wrong here and needs to be addressed," Fielder said.

Fielder made a spreadsheet for his entire neighborhood. Some assessments were high, others low -- some of the townhomes even look alike. That made KCTV5 News wonder what’s going on with property taxes in Jackson County.

We decided to do our own assessment of your property taxes. Realtor Jay Curtis helped.

"Your market value ... what you paid is not the same as what the county records shows, and that's very typical," he said.

Some Jackson County homeowners pay their fair share of taxes, some even more. However, others get really lucky, almost a jackpot.

In July 2010, a house sold for $105,000. Then, in 2012, it sold for $227,000. It then sold for $310,000 in May.

The assessed value is only $48,768. It never changed all these years. The current homeowners are saving $3,000 a year in taxes.

Another home sold for $450,000 in 2012. In 2015 it went down to $405,000 and jumped up to $630,000 in 2016.

The 2017 assessment was less than $200,000 ($194,196).

"It could be incorrect data. It could be flat wrong. It could be that we moved it, but we can't get it all the way to where we like without an inspection and maybe we didn't this year," Jackson County assessment director Bob Murphy said. "We are trying to capture as near as we can what a willing seller would pay to a willing buyer."

Murphy says the goal is for homes to be assessed in the 90-110 percent range for market value. But that’s not what we found when we sampled homes.

Someone paid $100,000, but Jackson County says it’s worth $42,941. We then found a home that sold for $83,000, but the county is taxing that homeowner more than $101,692.

We discovered the big winners are the big spenders.

Buy a fancy home and maybe you pay a fancy tax bill, but maybe you don’t. And there is no pattern. It’s almost like you spin a wheel.

In a sample of homes above $450,000, we found someone who paid $530,590. However, the county values that property at $379,509.

Another home sold for $512,000, and it’s valued at almost half the price at $278,480.

"I don't view anyone's home or car as a revenue object," Murphy said.

For the most part, Jay says, homeowners are going to be OK with the fact that they are paying less taxes.

"But on the other side, the county could be getting more revenue if these things were updated," he said.

But they aren’t.

"I was at $54,000 ... now, I'm at $70,000," Fielder said.

Fielder appealed his assessment all the way to the state level.

Homeowners can appeal assessments, but you can’t use what your neighbor is getting away with. You have to argue market value.

Copyright 2017 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.


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