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Why do my property taxes change every year?

Property taxes are figured by multiplying the assessed value of the property by the mill levy . The mill levy is the “tax rate” that is applied to the assessed value of a property. One mill is $1 per $1,000 of assessed value. Most years, both the assessed value of the property and the mill levy change, resulting in a different amount for a resident’s property tax.

The assessed value of a property is established by the County Appraiser. By state law, property is appraised at fair market value, as it exists on Jan. 1 of each year. “Fair market value” means the amount that a well-informed buyer is justified in paying and a well-informed seller is justified in accepting for the property in an open and competitive market. The appraiser uses local market sales data to generate a property value and analyze the property based upon its age, size, style of construction and replacement cost. 

Chart showing comparison of sales price vs. appraised value of homes in Johnson County.

The appraisal process is a method established by Kansas statute. A property’s appraised value will go up or down depending upon the local housing market. When supply is low and demand is high for homes in the area, property values go up. When demand is low and supply is high, property values go down. The housing market directly influences a property’s assessed value. More information about the appraisal process and how to appeal an appraised value if it appears to be inaccurate is available on the Office of the County Appraiser’s page.

This chart shows a comparison between the average appraised value of single-family homes in Johnson County and the average sales value of those homes since 2011. The trend shows that sales values continue to increase; so assessed values through the appraisal process also continue to increase. 

While the assessed value depends on the housing market, the tax bill is impacted by the operating budgets of taxing jurisdictions. The various taxing authorities in the county must annually prepare and approve an operating budget for the next business year.  

A resident’s tax bill represents the amount of tax required for all taxing jurisdictions, not just the county portion. The bill displays those jurisdictions assessing taxes, their mill rate and their tax amount. A comparison of the previous years’ tax breakdown is also included. The combination of all jurisdictions make up the total tax amount due. 

The chart below shows what percentage of a resident’s tax bill goes to which taxing authority. Only about 15 percent of a resident’s property tax actually goes to county government. School districts account for just over 50 percent, cities and townships 16 percent and the state, special districts, Park & Recreation District, libraries and special assessments for two to four percent each.

Pie graph showing the distribution of tax funds by percent

Chart showing Johnson County tax as .64% of median household income. Sedgwick .84%. Wyandotte .99%. Shawnee 1.35%. Douglas 1.79%.

Johnson County continues to have the lowest mill levy rate in the state of Kansas. The Johnson County Board of County Commissioners reduced the county’s mill levy in 2018 budgets.

A resident’s property tax changes every year because the assessed value of their home and the operating budgets for the various taxing districts are determined on an annual basis.