• Victory in State Legislature!
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    For years, no one believed that any responsible property tax reform could pass the legislature in Texas. But after more than a year of campaigning from Houston to San Antonio and El Paso to Austin, Real Values for Texas is shaking those assumptions.

    The State Legislature Takes a Step Toward Reform

    On Saturday, May 23, Governor Abbott signed HB 2083 into law. The legislation doesn’t solve our RVT GIFproperty tax inequities, but now accepted standard appraisal methods and techniques have to be used, and that is a step forward.

    The bill, introduced by Representative Darby, was referred to the House Ways & Means Committee. Once in committee, the state’s cottage industry of tax consultants and real estate speculators pushed to include language that would specifically allow property owners to use comparable properties outside the county when appealing their property taxes. That would have meant that an H.E.B protesting its taxes in thriving Dallas could compare their property valuation to a grocery store in struggling Detroit. Without the hard work of Real Values for Texas supporters, homeowners and community allies, the committee would have accepted this change and made our broken property tax system worse.

    While this legislation is a victory, comprehensive reform must go farther. For a fair, transparent and effective property tax system to exist in Texas, the state must pass legislation that:

    • Ensures property tax appeals be based on market value;
    • Requires that owners of large commercial properties disclose sales price;
    • Closes 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.

     

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  • TAKE ACTION! Strengthen HB 2083
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    Email the House Ways & Means Committee and ask them to strengthen HB 2083!

    button (2)Recently, Texas State Representative Darby introduced HB 2083. The bill requires that standard appraisal methods and techniques be used during an appraisal protest.Overall, the bill is a step closer to reforming property tax laws in Texas, but it could be much stronger.

    Fair, transparent and effective property tax reform in Texas should include:

    • Property tax appeals based on market value.
    • Required sales price disclosure by owners of large commercial properties.
    • Closure of loopholes which 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.

    In addition, SB 2083 needs to specify that any comparable used during an appraisal protest must be within the same county as the appraisal being protested.

    Take action today and let the House Ways & Means Committee to strengthen SB 2083.

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  • TAKE ACTION! Keep SB 1084 Moving
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    Email the Senate Finance Committee and ask them to hold a hearing on SB 1084! 

    button (2)This legislation would curb a common practice that commercial property owners and their tax consultants use to drive down their property values – and tax bills – by as much as 40 percent. 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.

    On March 16, the bill was moved to the Senate Finance Committee but nothing has happened since then.  You can keep this legislation moving by asking the Senate Finance Committee to hold a hearing on SB 1084.

     

     

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  • 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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  • Homeowners Could Save Up to $274 Annually
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    Homeowners Could Save Up to $274 Annually if Commercial Property Owners Paid Tax on Their Real Values

    New Analysis Quantifies the Cost to Average Homeowners When Large Commercial Property Owners Don’t Pay Their Fair Share

    analysis2013

    READ THE REPORT!

    Houston, TX – New data analysis shows that homeowners in the state’s largest cities pay up to $274 more per year because many large commercial owners are manipulating the system to avoid paying tax on the real value of their properties.

    Using 2013 data, Real Values for Texas found that a Texas homeowner who owns a $250,000 home could save between $200-$274 in annual property taxes if just the top 500 commercial property owners in six of the state’s largest counties paid taxes based on 100 percent of their property values. Communities could sustain their existing public services while lowering tax rates for everyone.

    “Closing commercial property tax loopholes would provide significant savings for homeowners,” said Beverly Ortiz, Real Values for Texas Campaign Director. “It’s not fair that homeowners have to make up the difference for commercial property owners who shirk their responsibility to our community.”

    When the largest commercial property owners push down their appraisals well below market value, it artificially shrinks the overall tax base, driving up property taxes for everyone.

    This new analysis shows that tax rates are about 10% higher than they could be because most commercial property owners do not pay tax on the real market value of their property. If the state’s broken commercial property tax system were reformed to correct that inequity, a Houston homeowner of a $250,000 home could see a $264 reduction in their property tax bill each year.

    Homeowners in five other large counties in Texas could experience similar savings:

    • $274 in Tarrant County;
    • $254 in Dallas County;
    • $218 in Travis County;
    • $208 in Bexar County; and
    • $200 in El Paso County.

    “Across Texas, homeowners are feeling the pressure of high property taxes, and our state’s broken commercial property tax system bears part of the blame,” said Buddy Villejo, San Antonio homeowner.

    If the commercial properties analyzed had paid on their real values over the last five years, Texas homeowners could have saved approximately $5.6 million in all. Fixing our broken property tax system would take some pressure off of homeowners while maintaining public services we all rely on.

    Large commercial properties like the Circuit of the Americas, JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa, and The Outlet Shoppes in El Paso, with the help of a cottage industry of tax consultants and lawyers, manipulate the Equal and Uniform provision in Texas property tax law to their advantage.

    The full analysis can be read online at: http://realvaluesfortexas.org/2014/12/16/homeownerssave/. The site also contains more background and explanation on how commercial property owners game the system and the impact on homeowners and communities statewide.

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    Real Values for Texas is a campaign uniting homeowners, parents, community leaders, public officials, and working families across Texas to advocate for reform of our broken commercial property tax system. More info can be found at: www.realvaluesfortexas.org.

     

     

     

     

     

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  • Local Government For Property Tax Reform
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    Local Texas Government Amps Up For Property Tax Reform

    Local governments are listening to homeowners and taking action to reform Texas’s broken property tax system. City councils, county commissions and school boards have taken action and supported the call for Real Values for Texas.

    Most recently, the Houston Independent School Board District passed its legislative agenda for the 84th session and included language to make property tax reform a priority.   Homeowners in Houston have had to pay approximately $871.3 million more in property taxes for schools because commercial property owners don’t pay their fair share.  This hurts our local community and our kids.   However, the School Board’s support for statewide reform will help to put more pressure on legislators who have the power to close statewide loopholes that allow commercial property owners to shirk their share.

    In addition, just a few months ago, the Houston Community College Board of Trustees also passed a resolution making property tax reform a legislative priority and pressure on the Houston City Council to take action has increased.

    In other areas of the state, local governments are moving as well.

    In San Antonio, homeowners and community organizations are meeting with city council members to push for a resolution. At a meeting on Tuesday, leaders and homeowners called City Council Member Rey Saldaña, District 4, to urge him to push for Real Values for Texas.

     

    El Paso homeowners claimed a victory recently, as well, when the El Paso County Commission unanimously passed a resolution of support for property tax reform.  Austin City Council has also passed it’s legislative agenda for the 84th session and it includes support for reform.

    In Dallas, homeowners are gearing up and educating homeowners around the issue, their rights and how to use their voices to create a fair property tax system.

    Real Values for Texas continues to grow and homeowners are looking forward to working with legislators who understand the importance of a fair system that maintains communities public quality services.

    Take action today – sign up to receive emails like this and learn how you can get involved.

     

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  • El Paso County Supports Property Tax Reform
    El Paso County Supports Property Tax Reform
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    On Monday, homeowners, community leaders and other Real Values or Texas partners stood together at the El Paso County Commissioners meeting to speak out for property tax reform.

    photo (25)

    They were heard.

    The County Commission unanimously passed a resolution in support of statewide property tax reform. The resolution resolves “that the El Paso photo 2 (16)County Judge and Commissioners Court support appraisal district legal fee reform, equity appeals reform, and mandatory real estate sales price disclosure and other property tax laws that would help counties fairly raise revenue from sources other than residential property taxes during the 84th Session of the Texas Legislature and to make it a top priority; and to explore participation in other coalitions supporting property tax reform in Texas.”

    By passing this resolution, the County Commissioners of El Paso are showing real leadership and ensuring that the voice of homeowners and communities is part of the debate in Austin during the 84th session.

    Across the state, homeowners continue to bear an unfair burden while the largest commercial properties in the state only effectively pay taxes on about 60 percent of the actual value of their buildings.

    Supporters, including homeowners Patricia Delgado, Aurolyn Luykx, and Irma Cruz, along with Eric Murillo – Comité de Justicia Laboral, Jose Escobedo – Border Network for Human Rights, Joseph Ozar – Border Interfaith, and SEIU Texas, and Julie Rogers – National Nurses Organizing Committee  – Texas spoke in support of the resolution.

    This is an issue that affects all types of Texans.  Reform would help to support the very services residents rely on and hold commercial property tax payers accountable to paying their fair share.

    If you are interested in advocating for a property tax reform resolution in your city or county, download a copy of the sample resolution and start by contacting your local elected officials.

    We can have Real Values for Texas.

    View news coverage of the vote:
     Se une Condado de El Paso a petición de reforma tributariaphoto 5 (2)
    Juliana Henao
    El Diario de El Paso | Lunes 10 Noviembre 2014

    El Paso County Commissioners Court adopts resolution in favor of a property tax reform in Texas
    By Aileen B. Flores
    El Paso Times | November 10, 2014

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  • September 16, 2014
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    Over the last month, the coalition of groups that make up Real Values for Texas have been working hard to spread the word about the need for property tax reform. Our work is paying off.

    In fact, Real Values for Texas was recently awarded Austin Chronicle’s Best Grassroots Campaign to Hit Home. Local Austinites are making sure their voices are heard about the need for local and state reform.

    On August 21, the Houston Community College Board of Trustees unanimously voted to make property tax reform a legislative priority in its 84th session. They are the first community college to make property tax reform a legislative priority this session.

    The Houston Chronicle, on September 7, published a story highlighting how current property tax loopholes are forcing Texas schools to pay big oil a “tax refund” after companies sue to lower their appraised value. On September 8, the Chronicle, in an editorial, called for the legislature to close those loopholes and require commercial properties to be assessed at fair-market value.

    In August, in Waco Texas, the Waco Tribune highlighted City Council’s efforts to close the loopholes locally by writing a “clawback provision” into agreements that make it less economical for companies to dispute their property tax appraisals.

    Over in Dallas, the Dallas Country Club is suing the Central Appraisal District for an “unfair” appraisal.

    It’s time for real values for Texas!  

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