How closely do you pay attention to your county property appraisals? For most people the answer is not close enough. And a little attention could mean saving a lot of money.
Every year property tax assessments in Kansas are measured upon the appraised value of the property. Typically in March taxpayers receive a notice of appraised value from the county appraiser. In November taxpayers receive the tax bill which is split into two payments, one due in December, and one due the following year. Each of these dates create the opportunity for a taxpayer to consider whether or not the tax value on property is appropriate.
When dealing with agricultural property in particular, it is important to pay attention to your appraisal. Agricultural property is taxed based upon its "use value" rather than fair market value. Agricultural value may be 20% or less of fair market value. Value can also be effected by placing property in government programs such as the Conservation Reserve Program ("CRP"). This program is inherently based upon property being valued as farming land as opposed to grazing land. The value for farming land is significantly higher than the value for land that is being grazed. So when a property enters or comes out of government programs, it may dramatically alter the tax value.
In one recent case we found that a property that had been in the CRP program was valued five times higher than comparable property when it came out of the CRP program despite the change in its use. Because the taxpayer was mindful of these differences, the taxpayer asked for a hearing with the county appraiser. This hearing can occur either at the time of valuation notice in March or upon payment of the taxes under protest. In this case, we were able to both reduce the taxes in the current year by appealing the appraised value and by paying the second half of the taxes under protest to save the same amount in the previous year. The appeal resulted in a savings of $2,600 on one 80 acre tract.
Obviously, this means that with a very small effort a significant savings can occur. However, it requires that the taxpayer to be mindful of factors that may affect the value of their property and identify the mistake being made by the county. If you have property coming out of a government program it is important to review these tax notices and consider how the property is being valued by the county appraiser.
Vernon L. Jarboe is an attorney licensed to practice in state and federal courts in Kansas. Mr. Jarboe concentrates his practice in the areas of real estate and business law. He is one of eight well-known real estate educators recently chosen by the Kansas Association of Realtors® to teach video-based online courses that will be available nationally to more than 200,000 real estate professionals. If you have questions about this article, the county appraisal of your property, or how to appeal a property tax assessment, call Vern at 785-357-6311.
The information and materials on this blog are provided for general informational purposes only and are not intended to be legal advice. The law changes frequently and varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Being general in nature, the information and materials provided may not apply to any specific factual and/or legal set of circumstances. No attorney-client relationship is formed nor should any such relationship be implied. Nothing on this blog is intended to substitute for the advice of an attorney, especially an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction. If you require legal advice, please consult with a competent attorney licensed to practice in your jurisdiction.