Missouri lawmakers investigate Jackson County property tax assessments

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Jackson County's property assessments are attracting the attention of state lawmakers.

A special committee overseeing local taxation is hearing testimony from the public Monday at the Metropolitan Community College. The committee's goal is to see if the state can improve the tax assessment process to better serve taxpayers.

Board of Equalization member Preston Smith told the committee Jackson County should not be allowed to impose assessed value increases of more than 15 percent on homes that were not physically inspected by the county.

State lawmakers also are concerned about more that 74,000 properties in Jackson County all receiving the same blanket increase of 14.9 percent, again, without a visit by an inspector.

"Certainly not having your particular home individually assessed can be a concern, particularly if your home may not be in as good of shape as your neighbor’s home," said Representative J. Eggleston, chair of the committee. "So that blanket assessment, we’ll look at that to see is that legal. Is that best practices or not?"

So far, more than 30,000 Jackson County property owners have filed appeals. With the deadline extended until September 3, Smith believes hearings for all of the appeals could go into next year. That could cause a lot of uncertainty for taxing entities like school districts, which must set their levies before then.

Schools may be reluctant to roll back tax rates, not knowing how much property values may be reduced on appeal.

Lawmakers may also consider a proposal to make the county assessor an elected position. And there's talk of making it easier for taxpayers to argue their appeal without spending hundreds of dollars on their own appraisals.

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