Property tax reform has been on the minds of Texas property owners for years and this year is no exception. In fact, a special session of the Texas Legislature is scheduled to begin on July 18, 2017 and property tax is one of the items on their agenda.
The expectations for property tax reform prior to the 2017 legislative session were the highest since the year 2000. That was the last time meaningful property tax legislation was passed as a package.
There were four major objectives:
1) to slow the growth of property taxes
2) to implement changes to effect impartial appraisal review board hearings
3) to provide property owners easier access to information
4) to provide more oversight of appraisal districts
However, due to a seemingly intractable dispute between the house and the senate, most of the proposed legislation was not passed. A list of exemptions that did pass in their last session include the following:
1) Total homestead exemption from property taxes for the spouse of a first responder killed in the line of duty.
2) A one-year extension for the deadline to file a homestead exemption. For example, a homeowner who bought their house in 2014 can file a homestead exemption by January 31, 2018 and get a homestead exemption for 2015, 2016 and 2017. Refunds of property taxes for prior years will be sent to the homeowners.
3) The deadline for filing was extended by four years for persons with permanent disability.
4) The chief appraiser can correct an error made in denying homestead exemption for those homeowners over 65 or for those who are disabled.
5) The freeport exemption filing deadline was extended until June 15.
6) The maximum property value for binding arbitration was increased from $3 million to $5 million for property that is not a homestead.
7) The Texas Comptroller can remove an arbitrator who is biased based on clear and convincing evidence of repeated bias or misconduct.
Positive property tax reform for Texas property owners is possible and you can bring about change. Texans that want to make their voice heard should contact their representative. If you would like to know who to contact, here is a link to look up your representative by county.