A recent study conducted by senior writer and editor for WalletHub John S. Kiernan suggests the average American household spends $2,149 on property taxes for their homes each year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
In addition, Kiernan said residents of the 27 states with vehicle property taxes pay an additional $402.
"Considering these figures and the debt-fueled environment to which we have grown so accustomed," Kiernan said, "it should come as no surprise that roughly $11.8 billion in property taxes go unpaid each year, the National Tax Lien Association has found."
For vehicle property tax rates, Kiernan and his team examined city and county data constituting at least 50 percent of any given state’s population. They then extrapolated the state level after using weighted averages based on population size.
"For each state, we assumed all residents own the same vehicle: a Toyota Camry LE four-door sedan," Kiernan said," (that is) 2016’s highest-selling car — valued at $23,070, as of February 2017."
The study found that Kansas is tied with two other states for the ninth highest vehicle property taxes in the country, at a tax rate of 1.8 percent.
Also, for a $23,000 2016 Toyota Camry LE four-door sedan, which served as the example car, WalletHub's study showed owners of that make and model (in Kansas) pay approximately $416 in vehicle property taxes annually.
In a phone conversation with The Kansan, Harvey County Treasurer Rebecca Fields said property tax on vehicles is based on the year, make and model of a given vehicle. It is not based on the condition of the vehicle itself. Fields said the actual rates (considering those factors) are determined by the Kansas Property Valuation Division in Topeka.
In the case of vehicle property taxes, Fields said owners pay when they get their tags. If they don't pay their taxes, they cannot drive their car legally, so there is little in the form of vehicle property tax evasion.
Also, if owners do not obtain a non-highway title for cars that are not being driven, Fields said they might receive a fine from the city.
As a general rule, Fields said the newer the vehicle is, the more vehicle property tax will need to be paid when tagging it.
Fields said tax costs can vary among two-wheel or all-wheel drive vehicles, engine sizes and other similar vehicle attributes, but vehicle property taxes for the exact same vehicle also differ among Harvey County and its bordering counties.
In an example, Fields told The Kansan that property taxes for a 2017 Buick Enclave would be roughly $977.22 in Harvey County, $864.07 in Sedgwick County, $1,177.49 in Reno County, $868.13 in McPherson County, $1,115.13 in Marion County and $1,099.92 in Butler County.
The average vehicle property taxes (for a 2017 Buick Enclave) between the six nearby counties, would be approximately $1,023. In this case, Harvey County's vehicle property tax would be roughly $159.93 less than the six county average for that car.
In an example of an older car, Fields said taxes for a 2008 Buick Enclave would be $150.48 in Harvey County, $133.06 in Sedgwick County, $181.32 in Reno County, $133.68 in McPherson County, $177.88 in Marion County and $169.38 in Butler County.
The average between those six nearby county costs (for a 2008 Buick Enclave) would be approximately $157.63. In this case Harvey County's vehicle property tax would be roughly $24.57 less than the six county average.
Dave Tongish is co-owner of Tongish Auto Mart in Newton. He has been in the used car business for 40 years – along with his wife, who is the other co-owner.
Tongish said high vehicle property taxes likely affect his buyers, as buyers already get strapped when they purchase a car because of the 8.5 percent sales tax rate.
"Anything on top of that is likely to further use up customers' disposable income," Tongish said.
Tongish also noted how, if the road tax on fuel went up and the cost of fuel were to rise, it would surely have an impact on car buyers' budgets.
He is not involved in vehicle property taxes, and does not see the actual effect in his purchasers' budgets. He also specializes in only used cars, but Tongish said those purchasing new cars, and paying both the sales tax cost and vehicle property tax, could likely feel the latter as an added burden.
A customer has a 60-day period from the time they purchase the vehicle until they need to pay the vehicle property tax, which is designed to help customers to save, but Tongish said it is not always an incredible help.
As a car dealer, Tongish said he and his wife license their personal cars legally and are exempt from property tax, but that $416 seems a high figure.
Tongish said most of his customers are paying between $100 to $250 a year, but with some of the new cars, if one averages it out, owners of those vehicles might get strapped with as much as $600 to $700 in vehicle property taxes.
Also, in wealthier counties, there are many more high-end or luxury vehicles, some of which Tongish said could contribute to a higher Kansas average.