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Breaking down your property tax bill, how tax levies fit in

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Posted at 1:38 PM, Sep 11, 2023

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You’ve seen packed meetings this year with many people upset over their increased Jackson County property tax assessments. But your property tax assessment is only part of the equation when it comes to your tax bill.

Let’s walk through how your property tax bill is calculated.

The many taxing jurisdictions in Jackson County — like cities, school districts and more — are now working to set their levies, or rates, which is another part of the equation that decides your tax bill.

You can find the formula on the Jackson County website HERE.

Your home’s assessed value is 19% of what your county lists as your home’s market value. When you subtract any exemptions from that 19%, you get your taxable value. When you divide the taxable value by 100 and multiply it times the tax levy, you get your property tax for that particular political subdivision, like your city or school district.

“That is probably the biggest misconception and why I have encouraged people to please attend the levy meetings for all of your taxing jurisdictions. When your property values increase, your levy rates should be going down," Gail McCann Beatty, director of the Jackson County Assessment Department, explained earlier this summer.

I went to one of those political subdivisions, the city of Grain Valley, in August and talked with Mayor Michael Todd. He told me that based on the valuation they received from Jackson County, they plan to lower their levy and take their first vote on Monday, Sept. 11.

“When we get our assessed valuation from the county, due to the Hancock Amendment in Missouri, we can’t get a windfall back on taxes," Todd said. "We have to roll our levy back to account for that so that people aren’t getting a 30% increase on their city taxes. So we have to roll that back.”

There are caveats, though — like inflation. Todd said they were concerned the valuation could change after they set the levy.

The city had passed a resolution earlier in the summer encouraging Jackson County to keep 2022 assessed values this year. In an update from the Jackson County Assessment Department Monday, they stated keeping 2022 assessments would not be possible, as it is not allowed by law.

In response to asking what would happen if, after assessment appeals, valuation changed after tax districts had already lowered their tax levy, the Jackson County Assessment Department said it's sending updated values but doesn't anticipate significant differences. Additionally, the department expects taxing districts can make up lost revenues if values are lower.

I had also asked the Missouri State Auditor’s Office what a taxing jurisdiction could do if their valuations changed after they lowered their levy. A spokesperson told me via email in August that “a political subdivision is able to levy an additional tax for up to 3 years to recoup the revenues it was entitled to receive for the prior year(s) affected by revisions. This would apply in situations where assessments are reduced after the tax rates are set.”

The auditor's office also reports tax rates have to be certified in Jackson County by Oct. 1, so check with your city, school district, etc. if you’d like to go to any meetings they may be having about setting tax rates.