Higher home values mean higher taxes

05/27/2014 5:47 PM

05/27/2014 5:48 PM

For any North Texas resident still doubting the growing strength of the local economy, the latest piece of convincing evidence probably arrived on a little blue form in the mail sometime during the last two months.

In April and May, the Tarrant Appraisal District sent out appraisal notices to the owners of 1.4 million tax accounts in Tarrant County, including 411,000 (27,000 of which are commercial accounts) in Fort Worth.

And according to preliminary reports, overall assessed property values are up 6.7 percent across Tarrant County — higher than the initial projection of 5 percent made last month.

That’s a substantial leap, largely attributed to rising home values in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Home values in the Metroplex jumped 1.2 percent in March (over February), according to the Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller Index. But year over year, the index is up 10 percent.

Overall, rising property values are a welcome sign, since they signify a rebounding economy.

But higher appraisals also mean higher property taxes. (Taxes are frozen for residents 65 and older).

This year, TAD increased the value on about 260,000 existing accounts — about 31,000 of those values jumping by more than 10 percent.

Fortunately, TAD’s word on the appraisals need not be final, if residents feel that the value determined by the county is unfair or suspect their appraisal is based on inaccurate or incomplete information.

All residents have the right to protest the valuation, a process that TAD executive director Jeff Law says residents should readily pursue to preserve their right to challenge the appraisal.

The protest deadline is June 2, giving residents a few more days to file their appeal.

Law has warned that scarce residential inventory reinforces rising property values. But lodging a protest could still be worth the effort for residents, many of whom will see their valuations lowered, either through a settlement, hearing or lawsuit.

Living in a highly desirable region has it benefits, but it also has its costs. Residents may keep their costs down by taking advantage of the opportunity to protest before the week is out.

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