Other Voices

Easing property taxes is a continuing battle when appraised values go up

Property taxes on homes can go up sharply if the appraised value increases and the tax rate is not reduced enough to compensate.
Property taxes on homes can go up sharply if the appraised value increases and the tax rate is not reduced enough to compensate. FORT WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM

Owning a home is a great investment, a source of pride for Texans.

But even though you wisely purchased a home within your budget, it can become a source of frustration when it’s time to pay your property taxes.

Skyrocketing appraisals are leading to unaffordable property tax bills that are forcing many Texans out of their homes.

The good news is, something can be done.

For years, members of the Greater Fort Worth Association of Realtors, who are also members of the Texas Association of Realtors, have been dedicated to helping people in our community become homeowners.

These same Realtors are working to ensure you can afford to keep your home.

The Texas Association of Realtors is the only statewide association advocating for private-property owners at the Texas Capitol.

For example, we supported property tax relief in 2015 through statewide Proposition 1.

This voter-approved proposition increased the homestead exemption and banned sales taxes when you buy or sell property in the future.

But our work is far from over.

The 85th Texas Legislature is in session until May 29.

Realtors will be highly engaged every step of the way to ensure your interests as a homeowner are protected.

We’re already monitoring several bills filed that intend to provide property owners relief from rising property taxes.

Lawmakers are seeing that local taxing entities such as cities, counties and special districts have netted tremendous gains in tax revenue due to rapidly increasing appraisal values.

Relying on appraisal increases — not rate increases — enables local elected officials to claim they “haven’t raised taxes,” when in truth, taxpayer bills have been increasing dramatically.

That’s because property taxes are calculated using two factors: your property’s appraised value (minus any exemptions, like the homestead exemption) multiplied by the property tax rate.

As appraisals increase, your tax bill will increase if the tax rate isn’t lowered enough.

Unlike most places throughout Texas, Fort Worth and Tarrant County have begun taking proactive steps to address the issue.

Fort Worth passed its fiscal year 2017 budget and reduced the tax rate by two cents, to 83.5 cents per $100 in assessed value.

This is a step in the right direction, and the city is proving to be a good steward of residents’ hard-earned tax dollars.

Tarrant County followed suit with a one-cent reduction in its tax rate, to 25.4 cents per $100 in assessed value.

We need to continue an honest and transparent conversation at the local level between taxing entities and property owners so we all understand why these taxing entities need more revenue.

Realtors are calling on state lawmakers to address local taxing entities that use appraisal increases to automatically raise more revenue from taxpayers.

I encourage you to visit HiddenPropertyTax.com to learn more about property taxes in Texas and what Realtors are doing on your behalf.

We know the Texas Legislature is looking at solutions, and we’ll be advocating for you throughout the legislative session.

We want to ensure Texans can continue to invest in homeownership and afford to keep their properties for years to come.

Callen Miller, is a Realtor with Century 21 Judge Fite Company in Fort Worth and the 2017 president of the Greater Fort Worth Association of Realtors.