The new law that addresses creeping property-tax rates

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Professional headshot of Mark Lehman

10/13/2015 | Author: Mark Lehman

In Lehman's Terms

American poet Carl Sandburg once reflected on the creeping of fog, how it “comes on little cat feet.” That type of stealth is fine for the weather but not for Texas property-tax policy. 

Many Texans get sticker shock from their property-tax bills. They get an even bigger shock when they discover that their local taxing jurisdiction—municipality, county, school district—raised tax rates without their knowledge.

Members of the Texas Legislature have heard the outcry from Texans. You want a more transparent process and stricter requirements to approve tax-rate increases. This year, legislators took a major step to address this issue.

Effective Jan. 1, 2016, a local taxing unit must have a supermajority to approve a property-tax rate increase. That means at least 60% of the unit’s members must vote in favor of the increase. Furthermore, all property-tax changes will be posted in an easily accessible and consumer-friendly manner.  

This new law didn’t get a lot of attention last session but could have a significant impact on your wallet. Taxing jurisdictions will no longer be able to hide behind voice votes, simple majorities, and ambiguous public notices to increase tax rates. 

Each year tens of thousands of Texans show up at central appraisal district offices to protest the values assessed on their property. But almost no one attends the budget hearings where property-tax rates are set. This new law enables citizens to take a more active role in setting their tax rates and helps them understand why their elected officials feel a rate increase is necessary.

We know taxes are necessary for communities to fund government services. However, increases should be done in a judicious, transparent manner—not approved in a stealthy manner, creeping up on little cat feet. 

Mark Lehman is vice president of governmental affairs at the Texas Association of REALTORS®.

Categories: Governmental Affairs, In Lehman's Terms
Tags: in lehman's terms, property taxes, tax rate, texas legislature


Comments

Lang Starns on 10/16/2015

On 7/15/2015 after Field Appraisal saw the HAR home value comparing to my house he reduce the market value from 226K down to 221K and I believe my house value should be below 195K.  He send me to MCAD-ARB for their second opinion to reduce it to the real and true value of the house however ARB decision to lock in market value at 226K that is far too high. 
I strongly believed I had been punished and retaliated because I asked MCAD-ARB for their second opinion, this is wrong.
Is there another solution or help for this problem beside pay $500 or $1000 to appeal to the District Court that I don’t have?

Tom Morgan on 10/15/2015

Thank you to Mark Lehman and the Texas Association of REALTORS for protecting property owners from stealth taxation!

Erline or Eenie Sullivan on 10/15/2015

What is considered a legitimate reason for a rate increase?  Expenses grow with population growth and so does the taxable amount.  I want to share your opinion in my quarterly newsletter, if I may.


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The material provided here is for informational purposes only and is not intended and should not be considered as legal advice for your particular matter. You should contact your attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. Applicability of the legal principles discussed in this material may differ substantially in individual situations.

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