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African-American Areas of Houston Over-Taxed by 100%

23rd May 2014

Homes in several heavily African-American areas of Houston have average taxation error rates of 100% or higher. Harris County Appraisal District (HCAD) home values are inaccurate by 14% on average across Harris County. However, the error rate is seven times higher in several heavily African-American areas, including Zip Codes 77033 and 77028.  These error rates exceed accepted standards of 5 to 15% for single-family by a factor of seven.  African-American areas are seven times as likely to be over-taxed by 10% or more, compared to Anglo areas.

Homes in Harris County

Zip Code                    Average HCAD Error Rate             % African-American

77033                                      133%                                                  76%

77028                                      97                                                        72

Subdivisions in Zip Code 77033 include South Park, Sunnyside Gardens, Smallwood Terrace, South Crest, Edgewood and Crestmont, Onery, Ricter, Chocolate Bayou Estates, Bayou Estates and Belfort Park.  The area is near the South 610 Loop and Martin Luther King Boulevard.

Subdivisions in Zip Code 77028 include Carver Terrace, Clairmont Place, Ford, Glen Manor, Homestead, Houston Gardens, Liberty Terrace, Marcus Place, Settegast, Rosedale, Rosewood and Wesley Place.  This area is just north of the northeast corner of the 610 Loop.

The primary factor causing such large valuation errors by HCAD is incorrect property descriptions.  Texas law requires appraisal districts to inspect each property in the county every three years.  HCAD does inspections by using aerial photography, instead of by sending an appraiser to inspect the property.  While limited information can be obtained by personally viewing the outside of a house, very limited is available based on using aerial photography.

While using aerial photography reduces expenses, it produces unacceptable results for older neighborhoods.  The result is the average home owner in these African-American areas is paying double the property taxes that are appropriate.  Charging double the fair level of taxes on some of our poorest citizens is unreasonable.  HCAD could fix its excessive error rate by simply doing personal inspections every three years, and by more carefully calibrating values for over-taxed areas.

Monday, June 2nd is the deadline to file a property tax protest.  Texas law requires that home owners must file a property tax protest to obtain a copy of the appraisal district’s evidence.  In most cases, the appraisal district’s evidence supports a reduction in value.  Most property tax protests are successful.  This is not surprising since the typical error rate for homes on Harris County is 14%.  HCAD’s value is off by 20% or more for about 15% of all homes in Harris County.

For more information, contact Patrick O’Connor at 713 822 8613 or poconnor@poconnor.com


Posted in: Protest Property Taxes
Keywords: Property Tax Protest, Reduce Property Tax, Harris County Appraisal District

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