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Property and Taxes FAQ

Can I make my own deed?

It is vital that deeds are prepared accurately. You can draw up your own deed but to prevent mistakes that could be costly, we always recommend that you retain an attorney or title company to help ensure that the deed is prepared correctly. Our staff does not prepare deeds nor are we qualified to provide legal advice.

Has my property been surveyed?

Maybe. If your property has been surveyed and the resulting plat of survey was recorded then it is probably on file in the office of the Engineering Division of the Public Works Department located at 3755 East 25th Street, Lawrence, KS. It is possible the survey may have been recorded in the office of the Register of Deeds.

Have we been around long?

In America, property ownership is almost taken for granted. But remember, there are countries where owning property is not the norm. The office was often created even before a state became an official part of the United States. The records retained in the Douglas County Register of Deeds office go back to the early 1800's. In eastern states, the records start in the 1700's and before. These records never go away. Research takes you back to the very first transaction between the Native Americans and the U.S. government and everything in between then and now!

Homestead Act: What is it?

The Homestead Act is a State program designed to refund a portion of the property taxes paid on a Kansas resident's homestead. Information about who may qualify and other general information can be found on the back of the Douglas County Tax Statements. The State of Kansas can be reached regarding the Homestead Act at 785-368-8222 Option #4.

How are recreational vehicles (RVs ) taxed?

To fall under the tax definition of an "RV" the vehicle must be, among other things, for use on a chassis and designed as living quarters for recreational, camping, vacation or travel use; have a body width not exceeding 8½ feet and a body length not exceeding 45 feet; an electrical system which operates above 12 volts and provisions for plumbing and heating. Please contact the county appraisers office for proper classification.

How are taxes calculated?

The formula for calculating residential real estate properties is as follows:

Appraised value x 11.5% = Assessed value x mill levy-$46.00*= Taxes**

* Residential properties receive a credit on the first $20,000 of assessment on the general portion of the school mill levy. This calculates to $46.00 per property.

** This will not include any specials that might be assessed such as sidewalks, streets, etc.

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.

How do I calculate the property taxes on my property?

This is how you can calculate the property taxes on your property:

  • Looking at your notice of value, find the "appraised value" of your property. Multiply the appraised value by the "assessment percentage" for your property _ (appraised value) times _% (assessment percentage) = assessed value
  • Multiply the assessed value by your "mill levy" and then divide by 1,000 to estimate the property tax you owe. _ (assessed value) times _ (mill levy) divided by 1,000 = tax bill

Contact your county clerk to find out what your mill levy is.

How do I get a longer pipe on my entrance?

If the width of your entrance is too narrow because you have changed the type or size of vehicle(s) you are using then you would be responsible for the upgrade (widening) of the entrance. Applications for the upgrade of entrances are identical to those required for the installation of new entrances and are available at the Engineering Division office at the Public Works Department, 3755 East 25th Street, Lawrence, KS 66046. It would be very helpful if you could bring a copy of your property's legal description which can be found on your property tax statement.

How do I get an address assigned to a parcel of property?

Addresses are not assigned to vacant parcels. Addresses are assigned by the Zoning and Codes Department when a landowner applies for a residential or commercial building permit. Addresses are typically based on the location where the entrance meets the public road. Note that an entrance to the property must be approved by Public Works or the township prior to applying for a building permit. A building permit will not be approved until the entrance has been constructed and inspected.

How do I get permission to gain a new access (entrance) to my property?

Applications for the installation of new entrances are available at the Engineering Division office at the Public Works Department, 3755 East 25th Street, Lawrence, KS 66046. It would be very helpful if you could bring a copy of your property's legal description which can be found on your property tax statement. There is a $75.00 fee required for submission of an application. If you have any questions you may call the Public Works Department by telephone at 785-832-5293.

How do I subdivide or plat my property?

The best way to subdivide property is to utilize the services of a professional land surveyor or multi-disciplined consulting firm. The local regulations can be complicated and, in addition, various state laws and regulations require certain activities be performed by licensed professionals. If you have specific questions regarding the process you may contact the Lawrence - Douglas County Planning office located in the Lawrence City Hall at 6th Street and Massachusetts Street, Lawrence, Kansas or you may telephone that office at 785-832-3150.

I need a copy or receipt of my property tax payments?

Real estate and personal property payment history can be found online through the Property Search page.

The website contains only Real Estate information. Personal property history can be obtained by contacting our office 785-832-5178. Payment information for your car tags can be found on your registration. If you want the amount paid please be prepared with a plate number for each vehicle, you can call us at 785-832-5273.

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

One sale by itself does not determine market value. A single sale may not represent the open market. 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.

What are the required inspections?

  1.       Footing (Prior to Pouring Concrete)

  2.       Foundation (Prior to Pouring Concrete)

  3.       Temporary Power Poles

  4.       Under slab Plumbing (Prior to Pouring Concrete)

  5.       Rough-in Plumbing and Final Plumbing

  6.       Rough-in Electrical and Final Electrical

  7.       Mechanical

  8.       Framing

  9.       Masonry Fireplace and Chimney

10.       Insulation

11.       Drywall (Prior to taping joints)

12.       Permanent Electrical Service

What are the standards for entrance construction?

Entrances must be constructed to proper standards and specifications for reasons primarily related to traffic safety. The standards and specifications are contained within an Entrance Construction Application Form available at the Engineering Division office at the Public Works Department, 3755 East 25th Street, Lawrence, KS 66046. There is a $75.00 fee required for submission of an application. If you have any questions you may call the Public Works Department by telephone at 785-832-5293.

What can I do if I do not believe the value of my property is correct?

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 by March 30th 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).

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 collected by the state and redistributed to public schools.

What is local sales tax?

The county voters passed a 1.0% countywide sales tax in 1994.  The countywide sales tax goes to the county and cities based on formulas.  The main purpose of this tax for the county was to build a new jail and health facility, and to reduce ad valorem taxes.

The county voters passed a 0.25% sales tax in 2018 for the purpose of financing the costs of providing mental health services for the county. Collection of the sales tax began April 1, 2019.

 

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. Land devoted to agricultural use, light passenger motor vehicles, and commercial and industrial machinery and equipment are appraised using a value based method, however it is not "market value".