Note: The following commentary was originally published in The Cannon Online, and the original article may be viewed here. For more information about The Cannon Online or its publisher the Texas Public Policy Foundation please visit their website at www.texaspolicy.com.
Soaring property valuations have long been a feature of Texas’ tax landscape. However, this year’s level of increase may be unlike anything we’ve seen before—at least in the Bayou City.
On Friday, the Houston Chronicle reported that the average home value had risen by 21% while the average apartment value had grown by 24%. Such astronomical increases are without equal, according to tax experts.
Here’s more from the article:
“Value increases this year have been unprecedented,” said Roland Altinger, HCAD’s chief appraiser, in a statement. “In my almost 40 years in the real estate business, I have never, ever seen such large increases in market values.”
To be clear, the fact that home and apartment values have skyrocketed by 21 and 24 percent, respectively, doesn’t mean that taxpayers should expect their tax bills to go up in equal measure. But it does mean that big-time tax increases are a possibility down the road.
So what can you do?
First, if you’re a homeowner, make sure your principal residence has a homestead exemption in place. “Homestead exemptions remove part of your home’s value from taxation, so they lower your taxes.” What’s more, a homestead exemption enables a property owner to qualify for a homestead cap, which limits increases in the appraised value of a home to no more than 10% per year.
Second, every class of property owner should be getting ready to protest your property tax appraisal. A relative few take advantage of this option every year, which means a lot of people set themselves up to pay higher taxes once tax rates are adopted.
Finally, once the protest process has concluded, everyone should engage with their local elected officials and urge them to adopt much lower tax rates so as to compensate for fast-rising values. In fact, local officials everywhere should be encouraged to adopt the no-new-revenue tax rate, which is the “tax rate that would produce the same amount of taxes if applied to the same properties taxed in both years.” Doing so would allow taxpayers to catch their collective breath and help businesses keep their doors open.