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SPOTLIGHT
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Your property tax will raise

Published on -12/17/2013, 9:21 AM

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Your property tax will raise

If the Mortgage Registration Fee is removed by the Legislature, one of two things will happen. You will have dramatic decreases in service or, most likely, your mill levy will rise. Until the mill levy is reduced, this will cost everyone in our county. You now will be paying for everyone else's Mortgage Registration Fee, not just yours. That is vastly unjust.

Currently, in Kansas, if you don't use the fee, you don't pay for the fee. There was an article written that says the mortgage fee is an unfair tax.

Many states bordering Kansas charge other fees such as Transfer Tax and higher document fees to file instruments relating to land records.

The Mortgage Registration Fee goes into the county general fund. Once the mortgage is filed in the register of deeds office, it is put on record and permanently archived.

Information Technology is involved through the entire process. The Treasurer does the billing, checks daily and monthly that the mortgage company indeed has paid the taxes, and when the mortgage is paid off, they then change the billing to the owner.

The Mortgage Registration Fee funding source was set up in the early 1900s as a funding source for the county considering all of the functions a mortgage has to go through to ensure proper handling which are provided.

In the early 1900s, the state Legislature also changed the Kansas Constitution to accommodate this law. It was approved by all of the citizens in Kansas.

The transfer tax in other states is paid every time the property transfers ownership.

A claim has been made that if you re-file your mortgage, you have to pay the tax again. This is not necessarily true. In Kansas, you have recorded assignments and unrecorded assignments. For example, if Bank A has the original mortgage and you want Bank B to refinance your mortgage, Bank A formally can assign the document to Bank B with the register of deeds to put on record. If Bank B submits an affidavit of previously paid mortgage, no tax is due.

In conclusion, the Mortgage Registration Fee is an appropriate source of revenue to pay for the services multiple county offices provide -- not just the register of deeds office. The choice is simple, either those Kansans using a mortgage can pay for the services at the time they receive them or all property owners can pay for these services every year through property taxes.

Rebecca Herzog

Register of deeds, Ellis County

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