Soon you will be getting your new NOAV from the county. You receive this every year in February. NOAV stands for Notice of Annual Valuation. This green and white document states that it is NOT A TAX BILL. It shows you your previous years' county appraised and assessed values and what they believe your property value to be as of the first of the current year. Every year we get this and every year we think our value is too high. Doesn’t it feel strange that we call our home our largest investment and yet we don’t rejoice when our largest investment increases in value? But I digress. Let’s back up.
For those who don’t know, here in Kansas we pay our taxes a year in arrears. The December tax bill you pay is for the previous year, and you only have to pay ½ of it. The other half is due in May. (Your May tax bill will be to pay the 2nd half of 2021.) That is because we don’t get our notice of value until February, and then we have an appeal period, followed by the option of a second appeal to the state of Kansas. Then all of the little sub-divisions of the county government, most of whom you don’t vote for, submit their budgets, then there is a period where there has to be a hearing for each of the little subdivisions to explain to the citizenry why they want more money than they got the previous year. Finally, based on all of that information, the county commissioners decide on the mill levy – the percentage of the ASSESSED value they are going to demand of each property owner – in order to fund all the projects of the government and the sub-divisions of the government. By then it is fall which is when the actual tax bills comes out.
The county appraiser’s office is supposed to look at comparable homes that have sold in the previous year in order to come up with their appraised value. The properties the appraiser chose are listed on that NOAV. Look at those. Some of the information about those properties you can find online – often you can see pictures. You should look at the square footage. You should decide if those are really comparable properties. If you don’t think they are, the next thing you should do is call your Realtor®. Your agent should be able to look at those properties and see if there are better comparables that change the proposed county-appraised value. But remember, in an appreciating market like we have been in for the last several years, if your agent doesn’t look specifically at properties that sold the year prior, they won’t be helping you establish a good value. Sometimes, the value will be higher today than it would have been on December 31st, and sometimes it will be lower, depending on whether it is an appreciating or depreciating market.
If your county NOAV is more than 10% higher, you should appeal. But, how do you do that? On the back of that notice are the instructions. Most people don’t read the back of that notice, but you should. There is a deadline to file your appeal. You have to state why you are appealing. Just because you think the value is too high isn’t enough of a reason. You have to have proof. You have to have comparable properties, when they sold, where they are located, how the condition of that property is better than yours, etc. Once you have sent in your appeal, you wait for the date and time for your appeal appointment. You will receive the notification in the mail. AGAIN, read it.
I can’t give you advice on what to say at your appeal, but remember, the appraiser’s office is not in the business of saying, “Good point. Let’s go ahead and lower the appraised value of YOUR property.” You have to show them how they messed up.
You will not get an answer right then. You will get a letter in the mail saying whether a change was made and how much the change was for. If you still feel that the valuation is too high, you will have an opportunity to appeal the decision to the State of Kansas and the instructions on how to do that will be in the letter you receive from the county.
I appealed my tax appraised value last year for the first time. I was able to get the county to drop the value by about $10,000. I still felt the valuation was too high and appealed to the state. I was able to drop my appraised value to what it had been the year before. Altogether that amounted to about an $80,000 reduction. And since the mill levy was lowered, I actually paid less taxes than I had the prior year. It was well worth the time I spent on it.
I don’t want my tax valuation to be less than what the value of my property is, and I certainly don’t want to see my investment depreciate. The fact of the matter is, you have to be an advocate for yourself and employ the resources you have to make sure your property is being evaluated fairly. One of those resources is your Realtor®. Give us a call if you need our help.