What’s Needed for a Fair, Transparent and Effective System?

What’s Needed for a Fair, Transparent and Effective System?

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Since the legislative session began on January 13, 2015, there has been a lot of talk about property taxes and the appraisal system. As people sent in their property taxes recently, many were probably wondering if this legislature is actually going to do anything that will create a fairer system in Texas.

Currently, over 30 bills have been filed that address property taxes in Texas. Thus far, nothing has been comprehensive enough to create a fairer system for homeowners. Homeowners would still be burdened because commercial property owners would be allowed to manipulate the system and shirk their tax responsibilities.

In 1997, a law was created which took only 19 seconds to pass changed how large commercial property owners could protest their property taxes. The law made it easier for large commercial property owners to protest their appraised property value based on the median value of a reasonable number of comparable properties. There were no guidelines set to determine what was considered reasonable or comparable.

In 2013, another law was passed that stated if a property owner won their protest, the appraisal district would have to provide more evidence to raise the property value the following year if the the property owner protested the appraisal again.

Homeowners are done lining property tax consultants’ pockets and making up for large commercial property owners who take advantage of the system. That’s why Real Values for Texas, today, sent a letter to our legislators asking them to stand up for homeowners and work for a fair, transparent and effective property tax system in Texas that includes:

  • Property tax appeals based on market value;
  • Requirement that owners of large commercial properties disclose sales price;
  • Closing loopholes that allow and incentivize manipulation of the appraisal and protest system; this includes ending excessive attorney/tax consultant fees and increasing protest review time for appraisal districts.

There is some hope. Senator Watson, D14, has filed two bills, SB 280 and SB 281. Both begin to address some of the loopholes that make it easier for large commercial property owners to receive up to a 40% discount when they protest their appraisals.

SB 280 helps to define a comparable property under the equal and uniform law created in 1997. The bill would require that any comparable meet these criteria:

  • Be within the same district of the property being protested
  • Have similar characteristics as defined by property code
  • Meet appraisal standards
  • Exceeds comparable properties value or the appraisal ratio by AT LEAST 10 percent.

The bill however, still allows for some loopholes. For instance, if the last property filing a protest is the last to be heard and if all or many of other properties before them have won a lowered property value, the last protesting property owner could see a huge reduction in property value because SB 280 uses the current appraisal records certified by the chief appraiser for reference.

SB 281 requires that the property owner must submit an affidavit regarding the opinion of the appraised or market value of the property being protested along with evidence to support the opinion.

Real Values for Texas continues its efforts to help create a fair property tax and appraisal system in Texas. We believe that homeowners should not have to shoulder the burden because commercial property owners aren’t paying their fair share. As the tax consultant industry continues to make profits, our local services are being jeopardized. We need Real Values for Texas.


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