Your property “tax rate” is meaningless by itself

Robert Pratt photo Copyright Pratt on Texas

Robert Pratt

I know it’s hard to believe but in the sense of knowing whether your local county, city or school district is raising or lowering your taxes, the tax rate they all talk about is rather meaningless.

“How can that be Pratt?,” you ask.

Understand this: A tax rate is simply a percentage of something. If I tell you something is up ten percent, that is a meaningless statement unless you know what that something is. In other words, you must know what the amount of a thing is in order for any percentage figure to be meaningful.

A local property tax rate is a percentage – it is a percentage expressed as x-percent of each one hundred dollars of valuation set by the appraisal entity.

Understand this: A local property tax rate is a percentage – it is a percentage expressed as x-percent of each one hundred dollars of valuation set by the appraisal entity.

Local officials tell you they didn’t raise the tax rate, or the percentage (think of “tax rate” as “percentage”), or that they raised it only slightly. They compare the previous percentage figure to the coming percentage, or tax rate, figure they’ve set. This is utterly meaningless as to how much they’ve raised or lowered taxes and the media not only reports it this way but often does a calculation reporters seem to believe equals the change in taxes.

To know how much taxes are actually changing, you must know the value of what the tax rate, the percentage, applies too. If the federal income tax remains at twenty percent but you make more money next year, you pay more taxes even though the rate remained the same.


The local tax rate being set is only meaningful when applied to the total appraised values of property in the taxing district. It has no meaning when applied to what the tax rate was before. The appraised values change each year and thus leaving the tax rate, the percentage, the same isn’t keeping taxes the same if property values have risen or fallen.

In Lubbock County for example, the county average for residential appraised value is up 6.2% so, leaving the tax rate, the percentage, the same as last fiscal year is at minimum a 6.2% tax increase.

SEE: Local officials lie about taxes, media helps

What do you think?...

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