Why is property taxed in Kansas?

Your tax dollars are used by local government to provide funding for roads, parks, fire protection, police protection, health and other services.  Property taxes also fund public school districts.  All property tax dollars received by the state are redistributed to public school districts or to educational building funds.

What does the County Appraiser do?

By law, the County Appraiser is responsible for listing and valuing property in a uniform and equal manner.  The appraiser determines the appropriate value of your property.  The amount of taxes you pay depends on the budgets set by local government, special assessments and an amount distributed to public schools.

How does the county’s appraisal affect my taxes?

If your property value goes up, it does not necessarily mean you will pay more taxes.  Likewise, if your property value goes down or does not change, it does not automatically mean you will pay less or the same amount of taxes.  Changes in property taxes are based in large part on how much your local government decides to spend on services each year.

Will the value of my home change every year?

The value of your home may change each year.  It depends on market conditions, improvements to your property, etc.  The County Appraiser continually reviews and records sale prices and other information on homes all over the county.

What is property appraised at?

Homes, commercial real property and certain other property categories are appraised at “market value” as of the first day of January each year.  Market value is the amount of money a well-informed buyer would pay and a well-informed seller would accept for property in an open and competitive market without any outside influence.  Agricultural land is appraised at “use value.”  Use value is an income approach to value based on net income returns to the landlord.  Certain motor vehicles, commercial and industrial machinery and equipment are appraised using a value based method, however, it is not “market value.”

How does the County Appraiser determine market value?

When valuing your home, the appraiser determines the age, quality, location, condition, style and size of your property.  The appraiser then uses one of more of the following three methods to value real property:

The comparable sales approach:  sales of similar property are compared to each other.  The appraiser then adjusts for differences (for example, one house may have more square footage than another).  This method works well for valuing homes.
The cost approach:  the cost to replace your property is adjusted for age and condition.  This approach works well for new and unique properties. 
The income approach:  in general terms, income from rent is used to value property.  This method works well for income producing properties (for example, apartment buildings and most commercial properties).

Does the County Appraiser visit my home?

State law requires the County Appraiser to view and inspect all property in the county once every six years.  Your County Appraiser may view and inspect your property more than once every six years due to market conditions and for quality control.  It is the owner’s responsibility to report to this office when a building is built, improved, damaged or destroyed.

If I bought my house last year, shouldn’t the value be the same as what I paid for it?

One sale by itself does not determine market value.  A single sale may not represent the market value.  The price you paid for your house is verified by the County Appraiser and then considered along with sales of similar properties.  The appraiser uses this information to appraise your home.

How can I determine if the appraisal of my home is accurate?

You can visit the County Appraiser’s office to review information on similar properties and verify that the information the appraiser’s office has on your home is correct.  If a neighbor has a similar house which recently sold, the sale price may also give you an indication of the value of your house.  In addition, real estate professionals can provide information about market conditions in your area.

What can I do if I believe the value of my property is too high?

Use one of two ways to challenge the value of your property.  You may appeal the “notice of value” of your property by contacting the county appraiser’s office by phone or in writing within 30 days from the date of notice for real property and May 15th for personal property, or you may fill out a “payment under protest” form with the County Treasurer at the time you pay your taxes.  If you paid all your taxes prior to December 20th, then the protest can be made no later than December 20th (unless an escrow or tax service agent pays your property taxes, then no later than January 31st).

You cannot appeal using both methods for the same property in the same tax year.  So, if you start to appeal, be sure that you follow through with the appeal.  You will not be allowed to pay under protest later.

If you are not satisfied with the results of your appeal at the county level, you may take your case to the Kansas Board of Tax Appeals.  For more information on appeals, please see the Appeals section of our web page or contact the appraiser’s office.

How do I calculate the property taxes on my property?

1.  Looking at your notice of value, find the appraised value of your home.  Multiply the appraised value by the “assessment percentage” of 11.5% (.115).  For example, if the appraised value of your home is $50,000:  appraised value ($50,000)  x  assessment rate (.115)  =  assessed value ($5,750)

2.  Multiply the assessed value by your mill levy and then divide by 1,000 to estimate the property tax you owe.  Contact your County Clerk to find out what your mill levy is. 

For example: assessed value ($5,750)  x  mill levy  (e.g. 237.205)  ÷  1000  =  $1,363.93

3.  Due to 1998 state legislation, the tax bill on residential properties assessed at more than $20,000 will be reduced by $46.  For properties assessed at less than $20,000, the tax bill will be calculated accordingly.  For each residential property, Smith County charges a $90 solid waste fee.  For commercial properties, the solid waste fee varies.  Contact the County Clerk for these rates.

For example, taxes on a house valued at $50,000 in Smith Center (from above):

$1,363.93 - $46 + $90 = $1,407.93

What is the mill levy and how is it set?

The mill levy is the tax rate that is applied to the assessed value.  In general terms, the mill levy is determined by dividing the dollars needed for local services by the assessed property value in the service area.  An additional amount is then added for public schools.  After the local government budgets are published and hearings are completed, the County Clerk computes the final mill levies for each tax unit and certifies the tax roll to the County Treasurer for collection.

Who pays the taxes due on property I sold or purchased?

Except for certain motor vehicles, property tax due on personal property is the responsibility of the owner of record January 1 of each year.  For real property, if not addressed in private contract, the seller is responsible for the property tax if the property is sold on or after January 1 and before September 1.  The buyer is responsible for the property tax if purchased on or after September 1 and prior to January 1 (K.S.A. 79-1805).  Private contracts between buyer and seller will often specify who pays the taxes.

Are property taxes prorated between buyer and seller?

Property is not prorated on the tax roll when acquired and is not prorated off the tax roll when disposed of (K.S.A. 79-309).  However, private contracts between buyers and sellers will often prorate the property tax.  The only exceptions to this are for motor vehicles and when taxable property becomes exempt or exempt property becomes taxable.

What is real property?

According to Kansas statute, real property is land and all buildings, improvements including mines, minerals, quarries, mineral springs and wells, rights and privileges appertaining thereto, except as otherwise specifically provided.

What real property is taxable?

By law, all property in this state, real and personal, not expressly exempt therefrom, is subject to taxation.

How is real property classified and assessed in Kansas?

Article 11, Section 1 of The Kansas Constitution provided that:  Real property shall be classified into seven subclasses and assessed uniformly by subclass at the following assessment percentages:

1) Real property used for residential purposes including multifamily residential real property and real property necessary to accommodate a residential community or mobile or manufactured homes including the real property upon which such homes are located----11.5%.

2) Land devoted to agricultural use which shall be valued upon the basis of its agricultural income or agricultural productivity pursuant to Section 12 of Article 11 of the constitution----30%.

3) Vacant lots----12%.

4) Real property which is owned and operated by a not-for-profit organization not subject to federal income taxation pursuant to section 501 of the federal internal revenue code, and which is included in this subclass by law----12%.

5) Public utility real property, except railroad real property which shall be assessed at the average rate that all other commercial and industrial property is assessed----33%.

6) Real property used for commercial and industrial purposes and buildings and other improvements located upon land devoted to agricultural use----25%.

7) All other urban and rural real property not otherwise specifically subclassified----30%.


Procedures used to determine appraised values for land devoted to agricultural use are beyond the scope of this publication.

Public utility and railroad property is state-assessed and beyond the scope of this publication.  Information in this publication does not apply to state assessed property.

What is personal property?

According to statute, personal property is every tangible thing which is the subject of ownership, not forming part or parcel of real property.

What personal property is taxable?

By law, all personal property in this state, not expressly exempt therefrom, is subject to taxation.

Who must sign the personal property rendition?

By law, every person, association, company or corporation required to list property must personally sign the rendition.  In addition, if a tax rendition form preparer prepared the rendition, then the tax preparer must also sign and certify that the information presented therein is true and correct (K.S.A. 79-306).

Do I have any appeal for the personal property penalty?

The State Board of Tax Appeals (BOTA) has the authority to abate any penalty imposed under this section and order the refund of the abated penalty.  In order to appeal a penalty, the taxpayer should obtain the proper form from the county appraiser’s office, complete the form, and submit it to the county.  The county would then submit the form to the BOTA for consideration.  Either party may request that BOTA rehear or reconsider its decision if such request is made within 15 days from the date of the BOTA decision.

How are motor vehicles appraised?

1) Motorcycles, automobiles and light trucks that are tagged to operate at less than 12,000 pounds or less on public roads are appraised for tax purposes using a formula set forth in laws.  The motor vehicles approximate base wholesale price (dealer cost) when first sold to the public is used to “classify” the vehicle within a price range.  The mid-point of this price range is then reduced 15% per calendar year (K.S.A. 79-5100 series).

2) Motor vehicles operating over 12,000 pounds or non-highway motor vehicles are appraised at market value.  The market value is generally obtained using valuation publications prescribed by the state.

3) Automobiles owned and leased for a period of time not exceeding 28 days by a car rental company have an excise rental tax imposed in lieu of property tax (K.S.A. 79-5117).

4) Motor vehicles used by, for hire motor carriers over the road to transport persons or property are state-assessed.  Contact the Motor Carrier Section of the Kansas Division of Property Valuation for more information regarding property taxes on state assessed motor vehicles at (785)296-2365

How are recreational vehicles (RV’s) taxed?

To fall under the tax definition of an “RV”, the vehicle must be, among other things, for use on chassis and designed as living quarters for recreational, camping, vacation or travel use; have a body width not exceeding 8.5 feet and a body length not exceeding 45 feet; and electrical system which operates above 12 volts and provisions for plumbing and heating.  Please contact the county appraiser’s office for proper classification.

The weight of the “RV” must be what is generally accepted as its correct shipping weight.  If the “RV” is a 1982 model year or newer and the County Appraiser or Treasurer cannot determine the shipping weight using the information authorized by the state and the law, then the vehicle owner must have the vehicle weighed at a certified scale.  The County Treasurer has a listing of certified scales in the county.


What is GIS?

GIS (Geographic Information System) is a collection of computer hardware, software, and geographic data for capturing, managing, analyzing, and displaying all forms of geographically referenced information.  Data can easily be stored and manipulated in a digital format with GIS.

GIS is different than GPS (Global Positioning System).  GPS is used for navigation and surveying.  It relies on satellites for precise determination of location. 

GIS is a process rather than a thing.  In simple terms, GIS layers information like transparencies.  Layers can easily be added or taken away.  The layers we will be utilizing in the appraiser’s office are: 1) aerial photography, 2) parcels, 3) ag use, and 4) soils.

How can the Smith County Appraiser’s Office benefit from using GIS?

For beginners, we will be able to readily access information regarding parcels, soils, and ag use.  Map maintenance will be done digitally rather than “pen to paper.”  Our maps produced digitally will be more accurate and more detailed than our current paper maps.