Recently, a tax fighter and data expert has exposed glaring flaws with the Jackson County Property Tax Assessment increases. 

Now, he proposes a solution that's not only in line with Missouri law but also much more equitable than the busted process now in play.

In the public interest, we share this extensive note that has been sent this morning to members of the Legislature and County Administrators . . . Check-it . . .

Preston Smith: Time for a Flat 14.9% Percentage Assessment Increase Countywide


The number of egregious errors in the Jackson County assessment has passed a tipping point. New evidence shows that the County Assessor has valued 80-year-old, 600-square-foot homes at more than $350,000.

This is not an isolated problem. Thousands of home values are wrong—and wrong badly.

Other new evidence now shows that there may be more than 50,000 taxpayers who did not receive notice of their new assessment. Either that, or the county data is wrong again.

The 2019 assessment was flawed. This assessment is far worse. Here are the new, stunning details of an assessment gone horribly wrong:

There is one market value placed on more than 500 parcels in the County--$356,270—that is wrong nearly every time. Since the Assessor has decided to make the data quality control in the assessment rest fully on the taxpayer, by telling them the burden to prove the value is on them when they have to provide appraisals, sales comps and other documentation in order to keep the value of their property within a reasonable market value. However, this system collapses when taxpayers do not appeal, and errors in the system are not fixed.

There is little in this attached spreadsheet that makes sense. You have a new 4 bed, 4 bath 3,214 sq ft house in Greenwood (that sold in December 2022 for $786,732) valued by the County the same $356,270 value as a 1 bed 1 bath 672 sq ft house in Kansas City (that sold for $29,500 in 2014). The same value is on the tax rolls for a 8 bedroom, 4 bath fourplex built in 1974 with 3,808 sq ft in Raytown (that sold in September 2020 for $325,000) and a 0.89-acre lot in Independence that sold in 2017 for $4,500. The inequity of this entire assessment is clear in this one spreadsheet. I got the sales values from the County Certificate of Value lookup tool, and with the help of a realtor for the first 75 rows on this spreadsheet, then I looked up every third parcel until going through all 507.

On the spreadsheet, you will see 63 parcels were modified from the $356,270 original value that the County used when the notices were mailed in June, all of those coming from taxpayer appeals. Even though the values in many of these are obviously flawed, there does not seem to be a process of correcting these errors outside of the appeal process.

The question is: Why would someone not appeal if they saw a house that they bought in March 2021 for $11,775, then receiving a tax notice saying the 2 bed, 1 bath 960 sq ft house built in 1940 was now worth $356,270? Of this list of 507 parcels, the owners of 260 did not appeal, even though the average increase for the group was 168 percent from the previous assessment. In short, more than half did not appeal.

Perhaps they didn't get a notice.

Although there were more than 54,000 appeals filed by taxpayers, this spreadsheet is an indication that the number of persons who might have wanted to appeal but couldn't, or didn't because they didn't receive a notice, could be another 50,000. Again, the County's data quality control doesn't work if everybody doesn't appeal.

The County Assessment Dept provided me a list that had 267,033 parcels listed that supposedly was used to make the mailing of the notices, but when the duplicates were taken out, there were 252,870. If there are 309,000 parcels in the County, that would mean more than 56,000 taxpayers likely did not receive any notice at all.  

I have attached two PDFs that show clearly how some parcels show a wide range of market values, as well as percentage increases. One shows the houses and values of only one street in Independence. The other shows a neighborhood in Lee's Summit. But maps similar to these could be built from any street in the County. There is no consistency at all.

I see where the BOE is offering "late appeals" until Sept. 7, for people who missed the July 31 deadline. The truth is, if we had a difficult time reach people who probably should have appealed through the media during the last two months, it is unlikely we will reach them again during the next few weeks.  

But why should the responsibility rest entirely with the taxpayers to correct the County's errors? When the number assigned to the property value is so blatantly wrong, why should it be necessary to the taxpayer to appeal in order to get it changed? The burden of proof to justify the values, according to the state law RSMo 137.115, should rest entirely with the Assessor, supported by clear, convincing and cogent evidence to sustain such valuation. RsMO 138.090 says "There shall be no presumption that the assessor's valuation is correct."

It is very clear there is no quality control over the data, other than requiring taxpayers to refute the value assigned to their property. This spreadsheet is proof that no matter how ridiculous the $356,270 value is on the parcels, it is set in stone until someone appeals to get it lowered. This assessment is flawed from top to bottom, and this spreadsheet shows it. Thousands of Jackson County taxpayers were not given notice of this assessment and unless something dramatic is done, they are going to be hit with catastrophic tax bills.
Here is a TV report that describes the $356,270 valuation and why it is in error.

KCTV5: $356,270 is Jackson County’s favorite assessment number. Why that might be wrong.

There have been too many mistakes in this assessment. The only fair and equitable way is to freeze residential values at 2021 levels and start over with a 14.9 percent flat increase across the county. (There has already been a flat-rate 25 percent increase applied to commercial parcels in the 2023 assessment.) The people of Jackson County should not pay higher taxes they do not deserve because of an incompetent, mistake-riddled assessment. The reason for the 14.9 percent increase cap is because I believe there is little to no evidence that the County actually met the state law on informing taxpayers of physical inspections and conducting them properly, and without that proof, it is illegal to increase assessments more than 15 percent. (If physical inspections had occurred on the 500 parcels on the attached spreadsheet, it is unlikely there would have been the wild values put on the assessments.)

I am asking that the County Executive, the Board of Equalization or State Tax Commission intervene to realign the assessments of the taxpayers of Jackson County in order to avoid thousands losing their homes this winter. There are currently three paths to approve this 14.9 percent cap on assessments:

The County Executive has the power, under the County Charter Article III, Section 6, Item 9, to "correct errors in assessment and tax records." With one stroke of the pen, a flat-rate could be set by the County Executive.

The Board of Equalization has the power to enact a countywide "equalization order," which is a legal tool used when there can no longer be fair and equitable assessments based on the current process. That is exactly what we have now: a process for equity that is broken. (See attachment)

Finally, the State Tax Commission has the authority to call upon the Attorney General or prosecuting attorneys in the state to assist in enforcing the property tax laws in the courts. Numerous state laws have been violated in this assessment, ranging from the late notice or lack received by taxpayers, lack of physical inspections and unequal access to appeals. The Commission also has the authority to convene a hearing concerning the assessment of any parcel in the state to ensure that all assessments have been made in compliance with law. Finally, the State Tax Commission has the responsibility to resolve assessment inequities in any county.   (See attachment)

Regardless of which body takes action, the taxpayers of Jackson County need relief now.  Either the County Executive, Board of Equalization or State Tax Commision should take immediate action and then convene a task force to make sure the next assessment is done right. I call upon the County Legislature to approve today the resolution to allow the State Auditor to come into Jackson County to shed light on these many issues with this assessment.

Preston Smith

Developing . . .