Government Accountability / Taxes

Date Filed

December 2022

 

Court

Board of Tax Appeals

 

Status

Ongoing

School Board Does Not Follow Truth in Taxation Law

Baldwin City, KS – Kansas Justice Institute files a brief with the Kansas Board of Tax Appeals involving a challenge to the validity of property taxes imposed by Unified School District 348 in Baldwin City, Kansas.

 

The text in the Truth in Taxation Act in Kansas is clear—school boards cannot collect taxes if they do not follow the law and doing so would violate the United States Constitution as well as the Kansas Constitution.

“Governments aren't above the law,” said Kansas Justice Institute Litigation Director Sam MacRoberts.

What is the Truth in Taxation law?

Kansas legislators passed the Truth in Taxation law, which automatically reduces mill rates so that property tax revenues equal the same dollar amount from the previous year. To increase the rates, elected officials must notify taxpayers of their proposed total increase, hold hearings for public comment, and vote on the entire property tax increase.

 

Before Truth in Taxation legislation, city and county officials said they were holding the line on property taxes while valuation changes allowed rates to rapidly increase without public hearings or public debate. Now local officials are required to vote on the entire property tax increase.

 

The Truth in Taxation law requires transparency over property tax increases and accountability of local lawmakers. School boards in Kansas must comply with this law.

Unified School District 348 Didn’t Follow the Law, So It Can’t Collect Taxes

School districts can’t operate outside their legislative authority. The decision in this case will have long-lasting negative implications both within and beyond the Board of Tax Appeals. After all, it’s estimated that there are more than 3,600 local taxing entities in Kansas, which include 286 school districts.

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