Editorials

TAD computers foul up property tax system

THE EDITORIAL BOARD

Housing bull market means rising values must be reflected in tax appraisals.
Housing bull market means rising values must be reflected in tax appraisals. AP

Apparently, a lot of Tarrant County homeowners got a break on their property taxes last year and may not have even known about it.

Problems with new software at the Tarrant Appraisal District delayed updates to property values, financial officers at several local school districts told Star-Telegram reporter Yamil Berard.

And while homeowners may be happy to hold on to their money, the result was millions of dollars in lost revenues for local schools — something none of us should be happy about.

The central element of a fair property tax system is that all property should be taxed according to its fair market value. In a housing bull market like North Texas has experienced lately, that means home prices are going up and it is crucial that they be revalued for tax rolls every year.

The mechanism for setting tax rates and determining actual tax bills is separate and is controlled by elected officials. But the starting point is fair and up-to-date property values.

For their part, TAD officials say that “everything is back on track” now, in the words of Chief Appraiser Jeff Law. That means 2016 values should be reflected in notices scheduled to be mailed to property owners in late April and early May.

Expect sticker shock.

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