Some Callaway County taxpayers who paid their county personal property taxes recently were upset to learn that their tax assessment on some used truck and sport utility vehicles increased in 2010.
Callaway County Assessor Dan Roe said the problem was not confined to Callaway County but applied statewide.
"It's certainly unusual for some used vehicles to increase in value. But that's exactly what happened in 2010," Roe said.
Roe said he and other assessors statewide must follow a state law that requires assessors to use the market value of vehicles as determined by the October issue of vehicle values published by the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA).
Bruce E. Davis, chairman of the Missouri State Tax Commission, sent a letter to Roe explaining the problem of increased values of some used vehicles and informing him that he must make personal property assessments using the state law that requires assessors to follow NADA market valuations of vehicles.
Roe has a copy of the letter from Davis on the counter of his office in the Callaway County Courthouse. He shows the letter to people who complain about a higher tax assessment on some used vehicles.
"I know about this situation first hand because I bought a vehicle when prices were depressed," Roe said. He said his truck had a market value of $10,700 in 2009 but actually increased in value to $11,850 in 2010, according to the NADA book value.
Roe said he told people who complained about the increases in some vehicle assessments that he had no option and was required by law to use NADA book value in setting assessments.
Roe said the increase in assessment didn't mean a major increase in taxes paid for most people but it was the concept that a used vehicle increased in value that attracted the attention of many taxpayers. Roe said he thinks NADA made a mistake when it lowered the value of low mileage trucks and sport utility vehicles too much in October of 2008 and it was reflected in 2009 tax bills.
By lowering the value too much, NADA had to make a big increase the value of the used vehicles in 2010 after gas prices decreased and the NADA book value of some used trucks and sport utility vehicles increased.
For example, the 2010 value of many trucks and SUVs manufactured after 2003 were actually higher than the 2009 values and the Missouri Assessors' State Valuation Guides reflected this.
In his letter to Roe, Davis said: "To many assessors (and, no doubt, taxpayers) an increase in the value of personal property seems counterintuitive and illogical. However, presumably, the high gasoline prices of 2008 drove down the values of these particular low-gas-mileage vehicles, and this decrease was manifested in the 2009 values derived from the October 2008 guide. By October of 2009, however, lower fuel prices caused the values to rebound, thus creating the unusual circumstance of an increase for the 2010 tax year."
Missouri law 137.115.9, RSMo, states that "The assessor of each county and city not within a county shall use the trade-in value published in the October issue of the National Automobile Dealers Association Official Used Car Guide, or its successor publication, as the recommended guide of information for determining the value of motor vehicles described in such publication."
If gas prices are extremely high in October of this year, the value of some heavy gas consuming vehicles may go back down again. If that happens, property tax assessments on these vehicles also are likely to fall for next year's tax bills. But not many taxpayers are likely to complain if that occurs.