A Tax to Grind | A Blog to Enlighten and Entertain Those Afflicted with Property Tax

Airline Fees Make More Sense than Property Tax Appeal Fees

Topic: A Tax to Grind, A Tax to Grind, Property Tax Appeals

Friday, 26 August 2011 by David H. LeVan

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How many travelers are excited about the new airline fees?    In order to boost profits airlines have started charging for everything – changing flights, better seats, earlier boarding, food, entertainment…. even pillows and blankets.  According to the Bureau of Transportation, the top 26 airlines combined made $3.84 billion in 2010 profits with $2.1 billion of it coming from fees.  Over half of their profits in 2010 came from fees!  Almost $1 billion came from baggage fees alone!  Do you miss the old days when bags flew free on all airlines?

It appears that the Court of Tax Appeals (COTA) in Kansas is taking a page out of the airlines fee manual.  In the interest of covering about $1 million of their budget, COTA recently proposed significant increases in filing fees, some of the increases being as high as 1000%.  Fortunately the fees were cut so that they are now ONLY doubled.  Are taxpayers supposed to feel good about only having the fees doubled?

Is it even appropriate to be charged to appeal your property value?  Should a taxpayer really have to pay to correct an erroneous assessment?  All the property tax appeal fees gets you is back to where you should have been to begin with.  At least with airline baggage fees your bag gets to travel to the same destination as you….  well, most of the time anyway.

Is Lawn Care Outsourcing Right for You? Is Property Tax Outsourcing Right for You?

Topic: A Tax to Grind, A Tax to Grind, Property Tax Compliance, PropTax Minute

Thursday, 18 August 2011 by David H. LeVan

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Is outsourcing your lawn care the best way to go?  While the predictable answer from a lawn care provider might be “absolutely”, there are some things I would take into consideration.  What are the costs of outsourcing the service versus doing it myself – gas, repairs, grass disposal costs?  Where do I want to focus my time?  Am I any good at mowing?

These are similar to the questions you might ask when considering outsourcing your property tax compliance.  The real question might not be “Should we outsource?” but rather “What is the most effective way to manage property tax compliance and pursue savings opportunities?”  When considering whether to outsource or manage property taxes internally, consider the following factors:

·         Complexity – There are an estimated 12,000 taxing jurisdictions.  Is your corporate tax department equipped to manage the numerous tax laws and rulings, renditions, factor tables, exemptions, abatements, tax bills, deadlines and valuation methodologies?  Are the outsource providers you might be considering equipped to do the same?

·         Staffing – Most property tax returns are due between January and May.  Are you appropriately staffed to accomplish the filings?  Can your tax department staff be more effectively deployed to strategic, value-adding initiatives?

·         Expertise – Does significant property tax knowledge reside within your tax department?  Do you want to build property tax knowledge into it?

·         Costs – Have you considered all of the costs to manage the property tax function internally?  How about all of the costs to outsource?

Considering these factors within the context of the goals and focus of your company (and your tax department) will help you determine if outsourcing is right for you.  For more, check out the latest PropTax Minute,

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How Property Taxes Helped Bring Noah’s Ark to Kentucky

Topic: A Tax to Grind, A Tax to Grind, Property Tax Exemptions

Thursday, 11 August 2011 by David H. LeVan

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Do you remember the story of Noah’s Ark?  According to the Bible, a man named Noah built the massive Ark and was able to save his family and two of every animal from a great worldwide flood.  The Ark came to rest over 4300 years ago on Mount Ararat, which is in modern day Turkey.  Since that time, attempts have been made to Trek up the dangerous mountain to see the Ark….. and attempts have failed.  Recently, actor and model, Donna D’Errico, had to cancel her lifelong dream to find Noah’s Ark because of safety concerns.

Perhaps there is another way to fulfill that lifelong dream…… The city of Williamstown, KY has recently agreed to give a 75%, 30 year property tax exemption for a group to construct a new theme park that includes a wooden replica of Noah’s Ark.  That’s right, the Ark is coming to Kentucky!  No need for a dangerous trip up a mountain in Turkey any longer.

City planners believe that the estimated 1.4 million annual visitors and 900 new jobs will generate significantly more revenue on the 800 acres than the unoccupied land generates today, even with the property tax exemption.  With property tax assistance, the Ark (or at least a replica) will find a new resting place in Kentucky.