Category Archives: Property Taxes

Gov. Greg Abbott says he will freeze cities’ abilities to increase property tax revenue if they cut police funding

By Nola Valente

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Gov. Greg Abbott announced a proposal Aug. 18 to keep cities from increasing property tax revenue if they decrease police department funding. (Screenshot of April 17 press conference)

Gov. Greg Abbott said Aug. 18 he will freeze cities’ abilities to increase property taxes at the current level in response to cities making cuts to police department funding, just days after Austin City Council approved a budget that will cut police funding by one third and reinvest the money in social services.

“They will never be able to increase property tax revenue again if they defund police,” Abbott said. “Cities that endanger residents by reducing law enforcement should not be able to turn around … and get more property tax dollars.”

Abbott’s press conference was held in Fort Worth with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen in Fort Worth on Aug. 18.

Read more from Community Impact…

As home values rise in Grapevine, Colleyville and Southlake, more homeowners seek relief through protest process

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Tarrant County Appraisal District/Community Impact Newspapers

In 2013 Frank Wagnon built his home in Southlake for $926,400. Since that time, the value of his home has increased exponentially, he said.

“I understand … building houses costs a lot more and the value of my home had probably gone up, but this is just crazy,” he said.

This year the Tarrant Appraisal District valued Wagnon’s home at $1.06 million, a 14.13 percent, or a $133,600 increase from when he purchased his home five years ago.

Read more from Community Impact…

Frisco’s homestead exemption increases to 10 percent

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Frisco City Council approved an increase to the homestead exemption from 7.5 percent to 10 percent for fiscal year 2019, a 2.5 percent increase.

According to the preliminary projections for fiscal year 2019, the average home value is increasing by approximately 6 percent.The exemption will not go into effect until next year, but the recommendation needed to be approved by June 30 to affect taxes paid in 2019.

Read more from Community Impact…

City of Pearland News Update 7.17.14

Flood Insurance Notice: Biggert-Waters Reform Act

The U.S. Senate is expected to vote next week on the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act, S. 1846.  This legislation delays for four years substantial (flood insurance) premium increases that are required by the current Biggert-Waters Act. This four-year delay allows FEMA time to complete an affordability study.  Those who are not already familiar with Biggert-Waters will be soon enough, because it threatens just about everyone’s property value.

We are urged to contact our two senators, John Cornyn and Ted Cruz. Neither has yet to commit, so we need to encourage them to vote YES on the cloture motion to proceed to the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act (S. 1846). If it is not passed, then homeowners and business owners across America will see dramatic, unaffordable flood insurance premium increases. Contact information for all Senators can be found here.  Or, you may call one of your Senators’ offices and request the email address of the staff member who handles flood insurance.

History

In July 2012, the U.S. Congress passed the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 (BW-12) which calls on the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and other agencies, to make a number of changes to the way the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is run. Some of these changes already have occurred, and others will be implemented in the coming months. Key provisions of the legislation will require the NFIP to raise rates to reflect true flood risk, make the program more financially stable, and change how Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) updates impact policyholders. The changes will mean premium rate increases for some—but not all—policyholders over time. Homeowners and business owners are encouraged to learn their flood risk and talk to their insurance agent to determine if their policy will be affected by BW-12.

Major Changes to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)

  •  Higher insurance premiums for homes and businesses below the Base Flood Elevation (BFE).
  • No discounts will be given to homeowners for properties below the BFE, even if they met the building code at the time of construction.
  • Pre-FIRM (Flood Insurance Rate Map) and grandfathered rates will be phased-out.
  • Subsidized insurance rates will be phased out for all properties except pre-FIRM primary residences that have not lost their qualification for the rate.

Thank you to our friends in Pine Hollow for the information!

Hints for Protesting Property Taxes

It’s Property Tax time again! Since there are many questions homeowners have about what they can do to lower their taxes, here are some helpful tips given last year by neighbor and realtor Richard Skotak:

The Appraisal District cannot possibly appraise every house in their jurisdiction every year. This, coupled with their mass-appraisal techniques (thousands of appraisals per hour by computer analysis models), may reflect a tax market value that is higher than the actual market. The market approach most often used simply asks, “What are properties similar to this property selling for?” They are very firm on not considering distress sales and foreclosures, even though the State has ordered by legislation that they should give weight to those sales, it is mostly ignored. You can save some money by simply eFile protesting.

If you decide to ask for an informal hearing, the county appraiser probably lives in Angleton and does not know your neighborhood homes as well as you. They look at a sales data book and try to convince you that your home is a “castle”. You must be prepared with at least 5 comparable sales and convince them you are right – it is just a home. The appraiser has had a long day, so make small talk and speak softly, have knowledge of the sales you are using, and most likely they will listen to you. [Editor’s note: asking about any pictures/memorabilia on their desks or cubicles or commenting on how difficult their jobs are are good tools for putting them at ease and developing a quick rapport.]

If you’re not happy with the outcome of the informal hearing, you can appear before a three-person Appraisal Review Board (ARB) in a formal hearing. Bring copies of the data you used and give one to each board member. These are people who are presumed to be impartial and listen to both sides before ruling.

Third, there is a new binding arbitration law passed by the Texas legislature that settles disputes between the Appraisal District and Homeowner. You have to put up a $250 deposit but if you win, by being closer to arbitrators’ value, it is returned. The arbitrator is chosen by you and the district.

Hints:

  • Bring something to read because they do get behind sometimes.
  • Do not start the conversation with, “My taxes are too high” or, “There have been no services for taxes paid.” It is not their concern.
  • Market value is a topic on which reasonable people can disagree. The property owner has a significant advantage since they have personally inspected the subject and all of the comparables. The appraiser has only the data provided by others.
  • Do not let a sale that you did not find upset the process. You have many other sales to present and your home is unique.
  • Do point out if your house backs up to an apartment complex, a car dealership, a thoroughfare, trashy neighbors, needs new roof etc. This is a time when you want to point out flaws.

There is also an unequal approach protest by simply pointing out two similiar homes that are assessed at different rates. Use brazoriacad.org to gather this data.

Richard Skotak is a local resident and a Realtor at Re/Max. He may be contacted through his website at http://www.richardskotak.com/.