••• Tax & Spending •••

Truth in Taxation transparency helps cut property tax in 21 counties

Thanks to the transparency aspect of last year’s Truth in Taxation Act and some taxpayer-focused local officials, residents and businesses in 21 counties will pay less in property tax this year.

The 2021 Statistical Report of Property Assessment and Taxation from the Kansas Department of Revenue summarizes actions taken in 2021 that will impact property taxes paid in 2022.  One report shows taxes charged for support of education, other local government, and the state.

The adjacent table lists the 21 counties with a decline in the combined education and local government sections.  (We exclude state property tax because it is not within the control of local officials and only represents about 1% of all property tax.)

In most of those 21 counties, taxpayers will pay less in both categories, but there are exceptions.  In Cherokee County, for example, education property tax is jumping 13.4%, but a 15.9% decline in other local property tax offsets the education increase.  Education includes public schools, community colleges, and other education establishments.  Local government includes cities, counties, townships, and special taxing districts.

Another 47 counties have net increases below 3%.

Most of those with declines or low increases are relatively small counties, but some notable exceptions exist.  Saline County has a property tax decline.  Those with small increases include Ford (2.2%), Montgomery (2.0%), and Reno (2.7%).

Decisions by local officials to not exceed the revenue-neutral rate calculation within Truth in Taxation played a significant role in the declines and small increases.  In 19 of the 21 counties with tax declines, most taxing authorities did not exceed RNR.  In 32 of the 47 counties with increases below 3%, most taxing authorities did not exceed RNR.

Some local officials imposed big tax hikes

Holding property tax down requires local officials to spend taxpayer money more efficiently, but not all local officials are willing to do so.

Officials in four counties – Clay, Dickinson, Marion, and Miami – are hitting taxpayers with double-digit tax hikes this year.  Other counties with outsized increases include Coffey (9.9%), Cowley (9.3%), Washington (7.3%), and Greenwood (7.1%).

The results for every county are at KansasOpenGov.org.

Statewide, the total property tax increase is 3.3% this year.  It would be smaller if not for a rise of 26% in Mineral Leasehold tax, which bounced back from a decline the prior year.  Taxes on State Assessed property jumped 5.1%.  Both categories experienced significant valuation changes.