The ad valorem property tax is the single largest revenue source for Kansas state and local governments, with over $5 billion in taxes levied in both fiscal years 2019 and 2020. While the State receives relatively little direct property tax revenue, this tax makes up more than half of the tax receipts for counties, school districts, cities, and townships. Additionally, the statewide uniform general fund levy for schools is remitted to the State from school districts and serves as a major component of state school finance payments.
This article reviews the 17-month property tax cycle and key dates in Kansas, including appraisal, budgeting and rate setting, and payment of property taxes.
Appraisal and Assessment
The Kansas Constitution provides for a classified property tax system, wherein property is generally appraised at fair market value and then assessed at the ratio of appraised value specified for that class of property. Residential property is assessed at 11.5 percent of appraised value, and commercial property is assessed at 25.0 percent of appraised value.
Appraisal Day – January 1
January 1 marks the beginning of the tax cycle and is the date on which all property is considered to be appraised. If a piece of property’s value increases or decreases after January 1, that change will not affect the tax associated with that property until the following tax year.
Valuation Notification and Equalization Appeal – March 1
For real estate, if the value of a piece of property changes, the county is required to notify the taxpayer by March 1. The mailing of the valuation notice commences a 30-day window in which taxpayers may appeal the valuation of their property. This equalization appeal opportunity is only for the valuation of the property and not for the actual tax owed. This appeal may be resolved through an informal meeting with the county appraiser or through an appeal process with the State Board of Tax Appeals. Ultimately, appeals may be resolved in the court system.
Municipal Budgeting and Mill Levies
County appraisers are required to notify county clerks of property values on or before June 1, and county clerks are required to notify taxing districts of their aggregate assessed value within the county on or before June 15.
Budget Certification – August 25
Generally, municipalities are required to certify their budgets to county clerks on or before August 25. An additional certification date of October 1 may exist for cities or counties required to hold an election to increase their budget authority beyond that provided for by a property tax lid. Completion of the budgeting process allows the calculation of the tax rate, or mill levy, for each taxing district. The mill levy is determined by dividing the total dollars needed for the budget by the assessed valuation of the taxing district, expressed in mills. One mill is $1 of tax per $1,000 of assessed valuation.
Tax Statements Delivered – December 15
County clerks are required to certify the tax rolls for each taxing district to county treasurers by November 1, and treasurers are responsible for sending tax statements to taxpayers on or before December 15 each year.
Tax Payment and Protests
Tax Payment, First Half – December 20
While a lien attaches to property by operation of law each November 1 for that year’s property taxes, the first half of property taxes are not due until December 20. If a tax bill is less than $10, the entire amount is due on December 20. Property taxes are paid to county treasurers, who then distribute the proceeds of the tax to the taxing entities.
While only the first half of the property tax is due on December 20, if the tax is unpaid after that date, interest immediately begins accruing on the entire amount of the property tax.
Payment Under Protest
The payment of the first half of property tax affords a taxpayer a second option for appeal of the property tax, in the form of a payment under protest. To appeal by protest, a taxpayer must pay the disputed amount of property tax and indicate, using a form provided by the county treasurer, that the payment is being made under protest. Generally, the protest form must be filed at or before the time of payment of the first half of property taxes.
The protest must include the specific grounds of the protest. If the grounds of protest are based upon the valuation of the property, the protest must state which portion of the valuation is admitted to be valid. If the protest is based upon inappropriate assessment of tax, the protest must state the portion of the assessment admitted to be valid. A taxpayer who appealed the valuation of their property pursuant to an equalization appeal generally will not be permitted to protest the valuation of their property for the same tax year.
Tax Payment, Second Half – May 10 of following year
The final step of the property tax cycle occurs on May 10 of the following year, when the second half of the property tax is due from the taxpayer to the county treasurer. The treasurer then distributes the proceeds of the tax to the taxing entities.
Edward Penner, Senior Economist
Dylan Dear, Managing Fiscal Analyst