The following article, which appeared in The Examiner on November 13, 2019, contains advice from Whitney Miller, attorney and Director of Collections for Jackson County.
Jackson County property tax bills should start showing up in the mail today, and the county suggests people review them soon and call with any questions – long before they are due Dec. 31.
“It’s helpful to everyone if folks don’t wait until the last day,” the county’s director of collections, Whitney Miller, told county legislators Tuesday.
Starting Tuesday, the county mails about 60,000 tax statements a day this month, and all property owners should have their statements by Dec. 1.
Although many property owners have expressed extreme frustration with this year’s property value reassessments, Miller stressed that the Collection Department isn’t the place to take that up. State law lays out the rules – taxes are due Dec. 31, for instance – and there’s not much leeway in how a county’s Collection Department operates.
The county is sending out 520,000 statements. About 5 percent of those property owners, Miller said, still have reassessment appeals before the county’s Board of Equalization or the State Tax Commission.
Some of those appeals will be resolved before the end of the year, and the Collection Department will produce and mail out a new bill.
“We are on good footing to do that as expeditiously as possible,” Miller said. An accompanying letter from Miller will explain why the second bill is there.
But some reassessment cases will be still pending into 2020. Miller’s strong suggestion is to pay the taxes in full. If the BOE or State Tax Commission reduces the assessment, and the tax bill is lowered, the county will automatically refund the difference. She said she couldn’t pin down how long that will take.
A property owner can make a partial payment before the end of the year, but that person is subject to fees and penalties after Jan. 1.
Still, this could be a burden for some.
Legislator Scott Burnett, D-Kansas City, used the example of someone who’s going to owe $52,000 – double that of previous years – by the end of the year even though the reassessment appeal is still pending.
“He’s not going to have his BOE hearing until next year, and he’s got to come up with $52,000,” Burnett said.
It is not necessary, Miller stressed, to pay taxes under protest to get the refund later. If anything, that could delay a refund because it bumps that person’s case onto a different track.
“Paying under protest is not necessary to get a refund of taxes,” Miller said.
The Collections Department will extend its hours – 8 a.m. to noon on the last three Saturdays of December – at its offices in the Truman Courthouse on the Independence Square.
Property owners don’t have to wait for the mail either. Tax bills are viewable and payable now on the county’s smartphone app – myJacksonCounty.
The county does offer some options. Many homeowners 62 and older can qualify for the Senior Quad Payment program and spread out their tax payment over four quarterly payments.