18 May 2021

Capitol Update: Property Appraisal Reform

A little over two weeks is all that’s left of the 87th Legislative Session. Deadlines alluded to in previous columns have come and gone, and we are now in the final countdown. These deadlines, referred to as the “Split Session Amendments,” were first proposed in 1930 to set the pace of session and ensure the Legislature operates efficiently. The first major legislative deadline arrived this past Thursday on the 122nd day of session, as the lower chamber rushed to hear as many bills as possible before the stroke of midnight. The House must now focus solely on Senate-passed bills for the next two weeks.

With that, I would like to elaborate on the issue of property appraisals…

Property Appraisals

Many constituents have contacted my office to voice their concern over their recent property tax notices and, more specifically, increased valuations on their property. These increases caught many property owners by surprise, especially when most families and businesses are still recovering from the economic downturn of 2020 as a result of COVID-19. Please know that I completely understand the frustration this has caused and do believe our current system must be reformed.

By way of background, the Legislature last session passed the Texas Property Tax Reform & Transparency Act, while also compressing the state’s maintenance and operation (M&O) rate for school taxes. These provisions increased transparency, slowed the growth of your local tax rates, and expanded opportunities to protest or appeal appraisal values. I am disappointed, however, that recent appraisal increases have absorbed most of the tax savings we had hoped for.

This session the Legislature continues to review the current appraisal system and I have proudly voted for each of these reforms. Among the changes is House Bill 1568, which gives more leeway to local appraisal districts so they aren’t forced into raising values artificially high to meet the standard of bureaucrats in Austin. House Bill 4179 also recently passed the Texas House. This bill recognizes that a higher percentage of Texans are successful in protesting their property valuation when an informal meeting occurs before the formal hearing in front of the Appraisal Review Board. At the foundation of both of these reforms is local control and public input — ideals which are paramount as each community in Texas is different than the next. If these provisions pass the Texas Senate and make it to the Governor’s desk, they will certainly be a benefit to taxpayers who are rightfully frustrated.

As always, please do not hesitate to contact my office if we can help you in any way. My district office may be reached at (936) 634-2762. Additionally, I welcome you to follow along on my Official Facebook Page, where I will be posting regular updates on what’s happening in your State Capitol and sharing information that could be useful to you and your family: https://www.facebook.com/RepTrentAshby/.

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