Senator Ellis Files Bill to Create a More Fair Property Tax System
“Every city has services it provides that are vital to the health and safety of our communities,” Jerry Gonzales, San Antonio homeowner. “When commercial property owners manipulate the system and pay taxes on less than the true value of their properties, homeowners are left to make up that difference or we lose those services.
Luckily, we have elected officials like Senator Ellis who are willing to stand up for homeowners.”
Today, Real Values for Texas homeowners and coalition partners went to the Texas State Capitol to stand with Senator Ellis, D-13, at a press conference as he introduced a bill that has the potential to create a more fair property tax system in Texas.
At the press conference, Beverly Ortiz, Real Values for Texas campaign director highlighted the hardships many homeowners across Texas are now facing under current property tax law. Current law allows many commercial property owners manipulate the system to drive down property values by up to 40 percent.
Then came a solution when Senator Ellis laid out the details of his bill. The legislation would curb the very practice that burdens homeowners most. It would ensure that commercial property owners protesting under the state’s “equal and uniform” provision actually compare their valuation to similar properties, instead of the much looser current standard.
That means that large commercial property owners, like those that own the building at 6565 N MacArthur Blvd in Irving, Texas, will have to present more examples of other properties that are similar to theirs before being granted a reduction on their appraisal value. In 2013, they purchased the building for $46.6 million and the same year final reduced appraisal was only $28.9 million.
As the stands now, appraisal districts often settle before going to court with a large property owner who is protesting their appraisal because the district just doesn’t have the money. Event if the appraisal district wins in court they aren’t awarded any attorney fees.
Fortunately, Senator Ellis’s bill also grants the right for an appraisal district to collect attorney’s fees if they win in court. Not only does this offer some financial relief to the appraisal district, it also deters the practice many commercial property owners have of routinely appealing their appraisals year after year, regardless of the merits of their case.Following Senator Ellis, Vicki Totten spoke about the her neighbors in Austin who have been living in the same homes for over 30 years but cannot afford to pay their rising property tax rates on their fixed income and are being forced to move.
“Homeowners should not have to move because commercial property owners in our community have the money and resources to routinely manipulate the system to their advantage. A fair property tax system doesn’t displace our elderly, who did it right by planning ahead only to be told they cannot afford their property taxes,” said Totten.
Austin homeowners aren’t the only one’s affected.
Jerry Gonzales, from San Antonio also attended the press conference: “Every city has services it provides that are vital to the health and safety of our communities. When commercial property owners manipulate the system and pay taxes on less than the true value of their properties, homeowners are left to make up that difference or we lose those services. In Dallas, schools are closing, library hours are being cut and trash service is being reduced. It’s time for real values in Texas.”
Senator Ellis filed Senate Bill 1084 yesterday and we hope to see it move to committee soon. Join us in calling Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick to move the the bill into committee today.