Call for Action: Reform our tax code AND protect middle-class homeowners

The new law that addresses creeping property-tax rates

Translate this page
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

advertise with us

Legal disclaimer

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.

While the Texas Association of REALTORS® has used reasonable efforts in collecting and preparing materials included here, due to the rapidly changing nature of the real estate marketplace and the law, and our reliance on information provided by outside sources, the Texas Association of REALTORS® makes no representation, warranty, or guarantee of the accuracy or reliability of any information provided here or elsewhere on texasrealestate.com. Any legal or other information found here, on texasrealestate.com, or at other sites to which we link, should be verified before it is relied upon.

Advice for Consumers

How Texas REALTORS® are helping homeowners

You found dozens of homes listed online that you love. Now what?

Why thousands of REALTORS® will be at the state Capitol Tuesday

Subscribe

More advice for consumers