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Understanding the layers of your property tax bill

Picture a map of Johnson County from a bird’s eye view. Then imagine several other maps overlaying the County map. Layer on the maps of the 20 cities, then the maps of all six school districts. Then add on maps that define areas you may be less familiar with, such as recreation, fire and cemetery districts.

Now, picture taking a pin and sticking it into the exact location of a piece of real estate (a house or a commercial building) you own. Each map layer that your pin sticks through is a taxing district to which you pay property taxes.

The best ways to see your layers is to grab your most recent Johnson County property tax bill. If you don’t have the paper copy handy you can look it up online at land.jocogov.org. You will see some information that looks like this:

Tax Authority  Rate   Tax Amount

STATE OF KS   1.5000      44.28
JOHNSON CO   17.7640    524.40
COMM CLGE     9.4610     279.29
JO CO PARK     2.3490      69.35
OLATHE CITY    24.7010    729.19
233 UNIFIED      31.3960     926.84
233 SCH GEN    20.0000     544.42
233 BOND         16.4720     486.27

Tax Authority is the district (or layer) to which you owe taxes.
Rate is the mill levy for that taxing district.
Tax amount is the amount you owe to that district based on your property’s assessed value (click here for the last Budget Blog if you need a refresher on how to calculate a mill levy.)

Things to note:

  • All real property owners in Johnson County pay property taxes to the first four authorities in the above sample.
  • This is a sample of a property tax bill for an Olathe homeowner, so the fifth line item is that city’s property tax.
  • This property is located within the Olathe School District so those last three items go towards that taxing authority.

 Other line items you may see on your property tax bill:

  • Johnson County Library (Olathe property owners don’t pay towards that taxing authority because the City of Olathe has its own library system)
  • Storm drain authority
  • Cemetery district
  • Townships
  • Recreation district

If you take the sample above and combine the three line items for the Olathe School District, note the percentage of the total for each authority.

State of Kansas: $44.28, 1%
Johnson Co. General Fund: $524.40, 15%
Johnson County Community College: $279.29, 8%
Johnson County Park & Recreation District: $69.35, 2%
City of Olathe: $729.19, 20%
Olathe School District: $1,957.53, 54%

The job of the Johnson County Treasurer is to collect the taxes on behalf of all of the taxing authorities in the County, and then disperse them to those authorities. In this sample, only 17 percent of the taxes collected on this property stay with Johnson County (Johnson County General Fund and Johnson County Park & Recreation District). Not only does the other 83 percent not stay with the County, but we don’t set those mill levies for another other taxing authorities. You might be interested in looking at your own tax bill and learn about where your taxes go.