Well, the taxman is apparently unimpressed.
Last year, the Jackson County Assessment Department used an obscure county ordinance and a new appraisal to sucker-punch Johnson with a property tax bill more than three times what he paid the previous year.
It began when the county issued Johnson a $3,891 tax bill. The county claimed his new six-bedroom home was worth $348,089 in a neighborhood where most houses barely crack six figures.
Johnson decided to fight the taxman by hiring an independent appraiser to check the value of his home. The new appraisal came back at $300,000, which would slice a grand off his tax bill. The Jackson County Assessment Department agreed to lower its appraisal after a hearing in December.
But by using an obscure county ordinance, they slapped on a year's worth of tax on the demolished home, in addition to the tax on the new home. His new bill: $2,671.
That's the law, says Terry Gessley, deputy director of the assessment department. In 1995, Jackson County adopted a statute that allows an assessor to remove properties off the tax roll only if they are destroyed by a natural disaster. "Prior to this statute, if somebody had a fire on January 2, they were just out of luck," Gessley says. "They had to pay taxes on the property all year long. As much as I like the guy and think it's a great story, we're not going to do anything illegal."
And the county tagged Johnson with $257 in interest and penalties after Johnson failed to pay when given a 30-day grace period to write a check for the new tax bill.
Johnson says he will pay the bill, though it may take him a month to come up with the cash. "It's just something that needs to be changed," Johnson says about being taxed for a full year on a home that spent eight months as scraps. "It doesn't make any sense that somebody has to pay for property that's not there."