A quiet but important victory for Texas taxpayers

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Professional headshot of Mark Lehman

11/10/2015 | Author: Mark Lehman

In Lehman's Terms

We finally have some good news for taxpayers.

Last August, with great fanfare and intense media coverage, the City of Austin filed a lawsuit against the Travis County Central Appraisal District in an attempt to rewrite Texas law regarding the state’s property tax system, which says all taxpayers must be treated in an “equal and uniform” manner. To some, this municipal action was nothing more than an attempt to circumvent Texas law and increase tax revenue— putting all property owners at risk of paying higher taxes—with no input from taxpayers.

If successful, this lawsuit would set a precedent where one city’s dissatisfaction with the state legislative process would allow it to use the courts to override the will of the Texas Legislature. This type of action would cause massive gridlock, a blatant lack of transparency, and a meltdown of the separation of powers between state and local governmental entities.

Last Friday, with very little media attention, a judge dismissed the case in favor of the Texas Association of Realtors and other property owners challenging the suit. In doing so, the judge made it clear that no city had the necessary standing to challenge the constitutionality of the state’s property tax system.

This small but important action proves in Texas, when it comes to your pocketbook, there are plenty of good people and organizations, like the Texas Association of Realtors, who will fight and win for you.

Mark Lehman is vice president of Governmental Affairs at the Texas Association of REALTORS®.

Categories: In Lehman's Terms
Tags: in lehman's terms, property taxes, legal


Chris Rosprim on 11/20/2015

Excellent recap of lottery funds and what happened / happens to them:


Gail Spinn on 11/20/2015

Kudos to the Texas Association of Realtors and all that participated, as well as the judge who made the ruling.  My question is…whatever happened to the money from the lottery that was supposed to help fund education?

Candy Cargill on 11/16/2015

I think the more important point is that The State Law was upheld.  We could have cities all over the State of Texas overriding this and that part of what the Legislature has passed and we would end up having so many laws, that the sum would be a State with no laws, thus lawless, thus no State.  I am proud of our Texas REALTOR Governmental Affairs Team.  They should too their own horns a bit more!

Frank Candelaria on 11/16/2015

I disagree Mr. Lehman.  A win by Austin would have been a move in the positive direction. 
Everyone’s pocket book - including large influential property owners - should pay based on fair & equitable value…i.e., Market Value.  Home owners and small property owners cannot continue to carry the burden.
I’m for full disclosure.
Appeal Austin, Appeal.

Chris Rosprim on 11/16/2015

Any property owner certainly has the right to protest - on their own - or to engage the services of a professional to represent them and challenge the value placed on the property by their respective appraisal district.  Often times this can result in substantial reduction in the taxable value of the property.  Any who have what they feel are higher than they feel appropriate property tax values should avail themselves of this right.  Have used it many times.  Until the Texas legislature finds an alternative way to raise taxes for such as schools, etc. then property taxes have to take the burden.

Charlie McCollum on 11/16/2015

I own a small medical property in McKinney.  Every year I pay an absurd property tax of almost $60,000.00.  I am forced to pay this whether I make any money or not!  In fact, I have never been able to take any income from my property (8 years) because of this ridiculous tax.  It is unfair that property owners carry the bulk of taxation in this state.  We act like it is great that we do not have a tax “income tax” but a state income tax would be more fair (would be based upon actual income and include more people); and in reality would not cost us any more than our present taxation system which punishes property owners.  Our property taxes are almost the highest in the nation!

Kelly on 11/16/2015

It doesn’t matter if sales prices are disclosed the tax districts or not, it would be out of date by the next year anyway.  Sales prices are only good at the time of sale.  After that, it is just an estimation of value.  And if the homeowner owns their home for decades, what use is a sales price disclosure? As long as the sales prices are disclosed on MLS for Realtors & Appraisers to use, that is all that is needed.

Chris Rosprim on 11/13/2015

Many - if not most - appraisal districts are members of and have access to the MLS, in Texas anyway.

JB Williamson on 11/12/2015

I protested our taxes a few years ago.  I asked how they came to their value & was told they use a computer program with data gathered in other states.  The employee complained that we don’t share our MLS data with him, and I don’t want to either.

I presented the employee with 12 recent comps, all in my neighborhood, all within 6 months, he took them & then said these are no good.  I then asked for his comps, he presented one.  He said this is just like yours, he was right, it did look very much like mine.  I knew the house well since I had shown it to clients recently & told him so.  The house is larger, newer, gated community & waterfront, mine is isn’t!

We appealed, waited for our turn to be called in while the employee met with the review board.  It was a waste of time & energy.  Yesterday while researching a property for a client I checked the CAD appraisal values for surrounding properties, the lot next to the lot I was looking at was appraised for $59,000.00 & the lot adjoining, same size, same topo, etc., was valued at $2,500.00, almost $57,000.00 less.  Something needs to be done in Texas to make it equitable for all.

Jan Kish on 11/12/2015

Great for Texas property owners. Thanks to TAR for your effort. I believe in the current non-disclosure system. Outside of the MLS system, there is nobody else’s business, if the sales price was acceptable for both Seller and Buyer.

Dwayne Clark on 11/12/2015

The problem is commercial property that is usually far under appraised.  That’s what need to be fixed.  Plus many high valued homes $1m+ that are under appraised too that sell outside of the MLS system.

JB Williamson on 11/12/2015

Now if TAR, would lobby Austin to get the appraisal districts straightened out & equitable, taxpayers would be VERY happy!

Tom Morgan on 11/11/2015

Excellent work by TAR!  Thanks again for everything the Texas REALTOR team and Mark Lehman have done for Texas real estate consumers and property owners.

Chris Rosprim on 11/10/2015

Yay for TEXAS Tax Payers / Property Owners!  Thanks to TAR and all for watching out for our best interests!!!!!  Good job guys!!!

Sam Gentry on 11/10/2015

To have a property tax system based on market value, but not have mandatory disclosure of sales prices is a very poor system.

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