More deceptive talk on property taxes coming from local officials

Pratt on Texas - copyright Pratt on Texas all rights reservedIt appears local government officials are beginning to coalesce around a narrative designed to shift blame to the Governor and state government in the minds of taxpayers when they, the locals, raise your property taxes.

The idea being put forth is that due to the Wuhan virus health and disaster declarations, Governor Abbott should somehow, by decree, freeze locally assessed property values across the state to somehow save you from local tax increases.

We saw hints of this very misleading strategy in a Dallas Morning News Watchdog story and a few other stories around the state in the past couple of weeks. The new idea is made clear in a Houston Chronicle story headlined: “Galveston County judge urges Abbott to freeze property values due to coronavirus.”

Galveston County Judge Mark Henry wrote Gov. Abbott requesting a property assessment freeze “so local families don’t get hit with an additional economic burden” during the global pandemic.”

It is a clever way to mislead the public because so many, including much of the media, are ignorant of how the property tax system works having fallen for the lying propaganda for years that increases in average appraised values are why their taxes went up. The truth is quite different.

When assessed property values rise, officials begin the process of setting the next year’s tax rate with the Effective Rate which is newly calculated to bring in only the same amount as was brought in the year before from the same properties.

Taxes rise, not from across the board appraised value increases, but only from when elected officials adopt a tax rate that increases, over the previous year, the amount of money they bring in to spend. To prevent higher appraised values from raising taxes, all the elected have to do is lower the next year’s tax rate to compensate.

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  1. Kelly Keesee says

    My main heartburn with the LCAD is their assumption that all houses in the Zone/neighborhood are somehow alike in amenities. As a realtor I see some houses in my area sell for more than mine could because of what is inside.
    Hardwood floors, new carpet and paint, higher grade windows, granite counter tops, tile showers, etc all demand a premium in a sale. My house is builder grade and in need of updates that I would have to make to fetch a market price that LCAD assumes my house would bring. The insult to injury is that I can’t make those upgrades because I struggle to make and pay the tax hit annually.

    • Pratt on Texas says

      That may all be true but it is a separate issue, and set of laws, than those surrounding the property tax charged by local government. Until people understand and handle these as separate issues, local officials will remain able to fool people into blaming tax increases on others.
      Also, I have had a good bit of experience with the exact issue you cover on the the appraisal. I would suggest never waiting for the official appeal process. Instead, in mid-year or Q3, I would call one of the appraisers and go over these issues with that person. They can then adjust the value based on what you provide. But remember, their appraisal is NOT an appraisal of market value, it is an appraisal for tax purposes – the two track together but are different in others ways.

  2. Kimberly J. says

    My understanding is that Senate Bill 2 is supposed to cap property tax increases at 3.5% without a vote from tax payers. This may explain why Wichita Falls property owners received one last tax gouge on their appraisals this year. I’ll just endorse my Trump stimulus check over to Tommy Smyth and then some.

    Would you please explain the rollback rate and how, if at all, it applies to the current state shutdown due to Covid-19? Am I looking at tax increases again for the next 5 years?

    “if any part of the taxing unit is located in an area declared a disaster area during the current tax year by the governor or by the president of the United States.”

    “…an election is not required under this section to approve the tax rate adopted by the governing body for the year following the year in which the disaster occurs.”

  3. Debbie Collier says

    County officials over spend their budgets then raise the taxes. They use tax revenue for their own personal gain.

  4. Steve Armstrong says

    End the criminal property tax! Problem solved..

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