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Assessing Your Assessment

There a lot of confusion and misinformation circulating in both social and traditional media concerning the new property assessments set and sent out by the Clay County Assessor, Cathy Rinehart. This post will attempt to clear that up as well as advise Clay County property owners about their rights, dates, and deadlines.

ASSESSMENT BASICS:

What is an assessment?

An assessment is the process of placing value on a property to determine the amount of property taxes owed. Reassessment is an update of all real property assessments in the county, conducted by the county assessor to equalize values among taxpayers and to adjust values to current market conditions.

How often is property assessed?

Real estate is assessed every two years (odd-numbered years).

Why is reassessment necessary?

By law, all property tax assessments must be based upon market value and be uniform within the same class or sub-class of property. Over time, the value of property may change, depending upon its nature, location and other factors, such as improvements made to the property. Some values change more rapidly than others. Reassessment is the only way to be sure that the taxpayer is being taxed fairly, and is taxed the same as other comparable properties.

The economy of the entire community also affects your appraised value. If the economy is strong, thereby increasing the value of property on the market, it will be reflected in increased property values. Conversely, if the economy is weak, creating a soft or lower real estate market, these values will be reflected in the appraisal.

Who is responsible for reassessing property in Clay County?

The County Assessor, Cathy Rinehart, is primarily responsible for assessing property within the county to make sure that the tax burden is equally distributed among all property owners. This is accomplished by distributing the burden according to the market value of the properties. However, the assessor’s work is subject to review by the county Board of Equalization and the State Tax Commission. The State Tax Commission is the state agency charged with the general supervision of assessors and enforcing property tax laws.

How does my assessed valuation affect property taxes?

The overall amount of real estate taxes to be collected in your community is determined, not by the assessor or any single government official, but by all local governments providing services in your community, such as your municipality, school, park and library districts. That is why it is important to be aware of any proposed increases in spending by your local governments. On the other hand, the assessed valuation of your property does determine your share of those taxes. It is important, therefore, that your assessed valuation be accurate and fair.

Who are the taxing districts in Clay County?

Schools, mental health facilities, health centers, fire districts, ambulance districts, road districts, water districts, hospital districts and library districts, to name a few. Your property location determines which districts receive your tax dollars. You receive a separate city tax bill.

Why do my taxes increase?

An increase in your tax bill can be a result of an increase in your tax levy, an increase in your assessment, a combination of both or new construction on your property.

** An important note about tax increases! **

In order to protect taxpayers from drastic tax increases, MO Senate Bill 711 makes it clear that the taxing entities tax revenue can’t increase more than the cost of living. The formula is assessed value (multiplied by) tax rate (equals) tax revenue; ensuring revenues don’t surpass the cost of living (COL), if it does, the tax rate is rolled back. While Chapter 137 of the Missouri Revised statute requires properties to be reassessed every odd year in order to report values accurately for school districts and city taxing districts; property values should not grotesquely go up or down, they must remain rea­sonably accurate. The Clay County Assessor’s office has an appeals process set up if property owners feel their property value has been inaccurately calculated. Here are your rights in addition to the process:

YOUR CLAY COUNTY PROPERTY OWNER BILL OF RIGHTS

You have the right to know how you are taxed.

State Auditor Nicole Galloway tells Taxing Jurisdictions their maximum rate per $100 of assessed valuation.
• Jurisdictions need to know assessed valuation before they can determine the appropriate rates to set.
• County Assessor Cathy Rinehart assesses real value (see next section)
• County Assessor sends completed tax book to State Auditor.
• Tax Boards determine levies based on total assessed value by the Assessor.
• Rates are approved by the State Auditor and delivered to the County Clerk.

You have the right to know how you are assessed.

The County Assessor determines the market value of a property. For real property, market value is determined as of January 1 of the odd-numbered years.
• Once Market Value is determined, the assessor calculates a percentage of that value to arrive at the assessed value. The percentage is based on the classification, determined by the type of property or how it is used.
• Citizens can appeal their assessed value if they feel their property has been overvalued, misclassified, misgraded, is exempt, or if they feel their valuation was a result of discrimination. (See next section)
• Once the assessed value is calculated, tax levies are applied to create your tax bill.

You have the right to appeal your assessed value.

• Schedule an informal hearing with the County Assessor’s Office by calling 816-407-3510. These informal hearings are conducted through May 17th. Please note, this is not a required step to submit your appeal and it is also optional for the Assessor to offer.
• Submit a further appeal to the Board of Equalization by June 17th. Forms are available through the Clay County Clerk’s Office: 816-407-3573. This step is mandatory in order to have your appeal considered.
• If you’re still unsatisfied with the decision made by the State Tax Commission, you can file a further appeal to the State Tax Commission by September 30 or within 30 days of the BOE’s decision (whichever is later). Contact the STC at 573-751-2414.

YOU HAVE RIGHTS!

• You have every right to appeal the valuation of your property.
By law, even if your assessed value is increased, your tax bill cannot exceed last year’s bill by more than the Consumer Price Index (1.9%} unless you have added new construction to your home.
• If the Assessor’s tax book is not completed in time for Taxing Jurisdictions to set their levies, they will need to estimate such rates.

In summary…

You have rights, especially the right of appeal. But to exercise your right of appeal, you must submit your appeal to the Board of Equalization as noted above on or before June 17, 2019.

And if your property values have increased since the last assessment two years ago, while your taxes are likely to increase, they cannot exceed last year’s tax bill by more than 1.9% if you made no changes to your property.

Those media reports and angry posts on social media suggesting wild tax increases are coming are simply uninformed and irresponsible.

Again, the County Assessor, Cathy Rinehart, is 100% responsible for your assessment and for assisting you this process. Please reach out to her office with any questions or concerns.

email: Assessor@claycountymo.gov

phone: (816) 407-3500

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