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What does it mean to pay your Jackson County property tax 'under protest?'

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Posted at 3:38 PM, Dec 20, 2023

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey and Missouri State Auditor Scott Fitzpatrick are encouraging Jackson County residents to pay their taxes under protest.

What does that mean? How does that work?

KSHB 41 Investigator Cameron Taylor spoke with a Kansas City attorney to find out.

Sherry DeJanes

The bottom line is you need to pay your property taxes by the end of the year.

Attorney Sherry DeJanes said to pay under protest correctly, there are two pieces. You have to send a letter to the Jackson County Collection Department.

In that letter, you have to include information like the percentage increase you saw in your taxes and what you're claiming you've overpaid. Then, you have to be part of a lawsuit.

DeJanes explained the benefits of paying under protest.

"One, the amount of your money that you're paying, which you claim is in overpayment, is segregated into a separate fund. It cannot be used by the collector for anything until there's been a resolution of the appeal for that taxpayer," DeJanes said. "The other benefit is that if you don't file under protest, but you've appealed, and you're successful, the overpayment will be applied to future years' taxes rather than going back into the taxpayer's pocket in that year."

What happens if you've already paid? DeJanes still recommends filling out a letter.

"I think with the AG's lawsuit, there is potential hope for them to be able to get their overpayment directly back into their pocket rather than being paid forward for future year taxes," DeJanes said.

DeJanes plans to file a lawsuit with affected homeowners in the new year. She said it doesn't cost anything to be added to the lawsuit because she's doing it as a public service.

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Protest template

Protest template — mortgage

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Monday, Missouri State Auditor Scott Fitzpatrick released the initial findings of his audit into the Jackson County Assessment Department and the assessment process.

He said the process did not comply with Missouri law, and he believes up to 200,000 homeowners were victims of the county’s errors.

"The notification that was given was inaccurate and often untimely," Fitzpatrick's initial report on the audit stated. "As a result, Jackson County property owners may not have known they were entitled to an exterior inspection and to request an interior inspection, and were denied the benefit of these physical inspections before their timeline for appeal expired."

Still, he said best practice is to pay under protest as the situation unfolds.