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Segment 1: Odds are good that sports betting won't be illegal in Missouri for much longer.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled two years ago that states have the power to legalize sports betting, and 2020 may be the year that the Missouri General Assembly gives it the green light. If new tax revenue from legalized sports gambling in Iowa is any indication, the initiative could be a moneymaker for the Show-Me State. 

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

Property owners in eight Jackson County neighborhoods can expect "significantly higher assessed valuations in 2021," according to new County Administrator Troy Schulte.

In one of his first detailed briefings to county legislators earlier this week, Schulte laid out a litany of problems suggesting that the county's assessment mess of 2019 might not be fully cleaned up for years.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas News Service

TOPEKA, Kansas — Kansas Governor Laura Kelly’s budget wish list is long: boosting spending on higher education, public safety and human services. She'd aim to cut some taxes, but look to add new ones for streaming video and music services.

Not surprisingly, the $7.8 billion plan is getting a mixed response from the Republicans who control the Legislature.

Daniel Caudill / Kansas News Service

TOPEKA, Kansas — The 2020 Kansas Legislature is underway. And while Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly laid out some of her top priorities during the State of the State address on Wednesday, Republican leaders of the House and Senate (and Kelly's fellow Democrats) have some different goals. 

Here are five issues that will be top of mind for the governor and lawmakers as the session heats up.

Segment 1: Kansas lawmakers prepare to tackle myriad issues in the upcoming legislative session.

Kansas' Medicaid expansion seems to be the hottest issue going into the 2020 legislative session, but it won't be the only thing keeping senators and representatives busy in Topeka. Possible outcomes and implications for everything from abortion to state debt to prison reforms were previewed.

Aviva Okeson-Haberman / KCUR 89.3

More and more young people are vaping, which has led states like Vermont and Illinois to tax vaping products. That’s unlikely to happen in Missouri. 

In 2014, Missouri lawmakers decided that vaping products and alternative nicotine products shouldn’t be taxed or regulated as tobacco products, part of a bill that banned selling vaping products to minors.

While a couple of bills introduced for this year’s session deal with vaping, none add a tax and the governor hasn’t indicated support for a tax. Illinois, meanwhile, expects to get about $15 million in 2020 due to a new 14.5% tax.

Segment 1: Kansas City, Missouri Municipal Court is working to improve the judicial experience.

Kansas City's Municipal Court is participating in a pilot project to improve trust between courts and the communities they serve. Through dialogue sessions, it hopes to tackle problems like its high failure-to-appear rate. Because citizens often face confusion and intimidation within the judicial system, personnel "want to demystify the courts," Benita Jones, the court's public information officer  said. 

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

A pair of legal opinions, covering vastly different clients, supports some kind of blanket change in the 2019 Jackson County reassessment.

The first opinion, from Legal Aid of Western Missouri, landed with the Board of Equalization (BOE) a couple of weeks ago. Legal Aid is handling about 200 cases of low-income people in Kansas City whose property valuations jumped 200% to 300% on average and, in some cases, more than 1,000%, according to Legal Aid attorney Brandon Mason.

Segment 1: The new structures and businesses making news in Downtown Kansas City.

Some of the more noteworthy announcements in recent downtown development projects include the United States Department of Agriculture relocation and Waddell & Reed's move from Overland Park. We learn about these and other projects, and discuss the use of property tax abatements to attract new growth.

GARDEN CITY, Kansas — On the last day of September, a bulldozer scooped dirt from an empty field between a hotel and a fence separating the land from a house-lined street in Garden City.

In 18-24 months, a massive $41 million sports complex, called Sports of the World, is slated to open at this site, with courts of all kinds — pickleball, basketball, volleyball. There’ll be a trampoline park and an outdoor recreation area with cornhole and a life-sized Battleship game. It’s expected to host cheerleading, wrestling and other sports tournaments, drawing in people from Colorado, Oklahoma and Texas.

Segment 1: Jackson County legislators answer questions of current budget, property tax and working with county executive Frank White.

Jackson County lawmakers say recent budgeting and property tax issues have caused county residents to distrust their local government. Legislator Jalen Anderson attributed the root of the problem to a lack of transparency and communication between the legislative and executive branches. "The time for talking is done. There needs to be change now," Anderson said. 

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

Jackson County Executive Frank White's proposal to cut property taxes by $3 million next year landed with a thud Monday in the county legislature.

It was criticized, ridiculed and eventually shot down by legislators.

They suggested the modest cut in the county's property tax levy was White's way of deflecting attention from the county's ongoing reassessment mess.

Tens of thousands of Missourians are still waiting to receive their state tax refunds this year. 

And some are saying this year’s wait is particularly bad.

State Auditor Nicole Galloway said this has been an issue for years, under both Republican and Democratic governors. Despite significant improvements in the timeliness of refunds last year, Galloway said problems persist and little has been done to remedy the situation.

Lynn Horsley / KCUR 89.3FM

While residents are in an uproar this summer over residential property assessments in Jackson County, Missouri, an equally important battle is underway in Johnson County, Kansas, where big box stores are successfully challenging major increases in their commercial property values.

The trend could significantly reduce future tax dollars for Johnson County schools, libraries and cities. Government leaders are worried and trying to plan for worst case situations.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

The Jackson County Board of Equalization (BOE) will decide Tuesday whether to yet again extend the deadline for property owners to appeal their reassessments.

As of Friday, some 9,500 appeals had been filed with the BOE and staff expected hundreds more before the deadline at close of business Monday.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

As the deadline for Jackson County residents to file property tax appeals with the Board of Equalization approaches, neighborhood leaders worry the damage caused by such a contentious and confusing process will have lasting consequences for people in their communities.

Alan Young, who cofounded the Ivanhoe Neighborhood Council with his wife, says folks in his part of town are going through a flood of emotions right now, primarily fear.

Segment 1: Jackson County reassessment disrupting more than property values

Though the Jackson County reassessment mess has been about market price, it is the people who own the homes and businesses who are most deeply affected. Three Jackson County residents discussed how their neighborhoods have reacted and the real-life implications for them and their neighbors should the new valuations stand. 

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

The fight over the Jackson County reassessment mess is dragging on and becoming even more contentious as critics alleged the assessment discriminated against poorer areas.

The county Board of Equalization (BOE) on Thursday had a plan on its agenda that would throw out the assessment and cap property value increases at no more than 14 percent.

Segment 1: A "dark store theory" update

The Kansas Board of Tax Appeals handed Johnson County a defeat last month when they ruled the county has overcharged some Walmart stores millions of dollars in property taxes. The decision is based on something called the "dark store theory," and it could put homeowners on the hook for making up the county's lost revenue.

Sam Zeff

In a move that caught the Jackson County Board of Equalization (BOE) off guard, one member proposed Monday that the entire reassessment should be tossed out.

“It’s essentially a do-over,” said Preston Smith who represents Blue Springs schools on the BOE.

Under Smith's plan any property whose market value increased by more than 200 percent would see a hike in valuation of 14 percent.

If the property jumped 100 percent to 200 percent, the valuation would increase 13 percent.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

Jackson County property owners may have more time to appeal their valuations as the reassessment mess in the county rolls on with no solution in sight.

At the urging of a half dozen county legislators, the Board of Equalization (BOE) at its meeting Wednesday decided to consider extending the appeals deadline past Monday, July 8.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Jackson County officials are searching for a way out of a lingering property reassessment fiasco, and the county's director of assessment says her office needs all the help it can get.

Segment 1: Jackson County officials respond to skyrocketing property assessment values.

The Jackson County Legislature has asked County Executive Frank White to re-do property assessment this year because of a dramatic spike in values. The county assessor and legislative leaders discussed how to fix the problem, and why the assessments have historically been so low. 

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

Members of the Jackson County Legislature on Friday unanimously called on the county executive to discard all recently issued property reassessments.

It was the newest move in an ongoing controversy surrounding Jackson County's reassessment of the 300,000 parcels of land in the county.

"It's become clear there are numerous grave errors in the 2019 reassessment values," legislators wrote in a statement to County Executive Frank White on Friday afternoon. They said White should "provide a resolution to this situation" although no specifics actions were suggested.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

There are now 22,000 informal appeals related to the growing reassessment mess in Jackson County.

The Jackson County Board of Equalization (BOE), which decides formal appeals of property valuations, is now bracing to hear the cases from people who believe their property was overvalued in the recent reassessment.

"Twenty thousand cases is overwhelming," board vice chair Marilyn Shapiro said at a BOE meeting Thursday in Independence.

Sam Zeff

Jackson County says the reassessment of 15,000 pieces of property are now being disputed."We're now looking at the entire Westside," said Gail McCann Beatty, the county's director of assessment. 

On Tuesday, the county clarified its plans for the neighborhood.

“It is important that everyone know that no area of the county is getting a ‘redo,’” Jackson County spokesperson Marshanna Hester said in a statement. She noted the county was reviewing some residential properties with adjoining vacant lots, which are mainly situated in the city’s urban core, including the Westside.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

When Christine Taylor-Butler opened her property tax assessment Friday, she was shocked to see the value of her Hyde Park home had been raised by $250,000, which is up around 70 percent.

"If someone writes me a check for $600,000, I will sell right now," Taylor-Butler laughed.

But, she said, her home, which she describes as a rehab house, is nowhere near worth that kind of money. 

Taylor-Butler isn't the only Jackson County homeowner with sticker shock.

Segment 1: The voter ID laws enacted in 35 states are inefficient and have little to no impact.

Segment 1: Supreme Court decision involving Wayfair.com has lawmakers looking at making online retailers collect state sales tax.

With the state revenue in Missouri short by about $300 million, legislators are considering making online retailers, not residents, calculate, collect and remit the sales tax for purchases made on their websites. Brick-and-mortar businesses in the Show-Me State could benefit from the move as well by having a more level playing field on which to compete.

City of Parkville

Northland voters repealed a pit bull ban and agreed to one of two sales tax increase in Tuesday’s municipal elections. Here’s a breakdown of what passed and what didn't.

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