Missouri state auditor investigates Jackson County property tax assessment complaints

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Missouri State Auditor Scott Fitzpatrick announced Friday that his office is investigating complaints about this year’s property valuations in Jackson County.

In a letter sent to Jackson County Executive Frank White Jr., Fitzpatrick said the city auditor’s whistleblower hotline received multiple complaints from county residents concerned about property valuations that are much higher than anticipated.

The letter notes that some property owners haven’t able to get through the phone line to schedule an informal value review with the Jackson County Assessment Department.

The assessment department contracted a private company called Tyler Technologies to conduct its initial valuations during this assessment cycle. The letter adds that some informal value reviews are being conducted by Tyler Technologies personnel, who may be unqualified to make assessment decisions on behalf of the county.

The state auditor’s office is asking White to provide a list of documentation no later than Aug. 18.

Property tax assessments in Jackson County

Property assessments in Jackson County have been a hot topic in recent months, with county data showing an overall value increase of over 40% for residential property.

Some homeowners have seen increases of over 90%, and others reported increases of 150%. Tens of thousands of Jackson County homeowners have now filed appeals to have their property valuations adjusted.

Assessment increases on primary residences aren’t lawful in several other states. Michigan and Arkansas cap annual assessment increases at 5%. New Mexico’s is 3%. Texas’ is 10%.

South Carolina law prohibits the taxable value on a home from increasing more than 15 percent over a five-year period. Kansas offers a 75% property tax refund to certain homeowners 65 years or older.

Missouri does not have a law to prevent property assessment increases.

The Jackson County Board of Equalization, an independent board of county taxpayers, was scheduled to begin property valuation appeals hearings on July 7 and continue these hearings through Aug. 31, according to a news release from Jackson County.

The Jackson County Assessment Department did not respond to a call seeking comment for this story.

The Star’s David Hudnall, Bill Lukitsch and Natalie Wallington contributed to this report.