by Cheryl E. Johnson, PCC, Galveston County Tax Assessor Collector
As reported in August, 391 property tax bills passed last Session. SB 2 (Property Tax Reform and Transparency Act) and HB 3 (school finance reform) have been widely touted but what about the 389 others, particularly those already in effect or soon to be? Reported are those that could impact you in a big way.
If you ever protested your value or own property in different counties you know appraisal districts (CADs) operate differently. The Comptroller has been tasked with defining and establishing standards from governance to how values are determined and will more fully evaluate taxpayer assistance. I am hopeful that the inner workings – the unexplained activity deep inside the computer – will be thoroughly evaluated leveling the playing field.
You will be able to request hearing notices by certified or electronic mail and the evidence must arrive a full 15 days before the hearing. Innocuous as it sounds, you or the chief appraiser will be able to file a motion to correct an error on your home if it impacted the value by one-fourth or more (from one-third), Appraisal Review Board (ARB) bias and misbehavior could result in removal by CAD Boards or the State District Administrative Judge (if you ever had a hostile ARB panel you know how important this is).
Both the time to request arbitration (failed in the informal and ARB) has been extended from 45 to 60 days and, if you own contiguous properties, these can be rolled into a single request. Mess up the filing (automatic rejection) – you will have 15 days to fix it. Property tax refunds will now be paid to owners and AG rollback taxes will be three years with 5% interest. I am really excited about recognition of “heir property” as those inheriting a home without a will have a method of establishing ownership and homestead rights.
Sheriff Sales are moving into the 21st Century as online bidding will be permitted if approved by county commissioners and State and Federal law impacting military deferral of taxes has been aligned. Since 2013, certain disaster victims have been protected from exorbitant property taxes when rebuilding through a State disaster reconstruction program but now all, including Harvey victims, will no longer face improvements being classified as new with full taxes being applied at once. Those out of their homes during replacement or repair may keep the homestead exemption up to five years (rather than two).
Not tax related but GREAT news – the JD Lambright Local Government Ethics Reform Act provides for the creation of county ethics commissions (population and location requirements apply) and authorizes commissioners to adopt a code of ethics. Those costly “special” taxing entities like MUDs must record their meetings and post information online.
A listing of the 10 Constitutional Amendments to be voted on November 5th is included below. Additional information will be provided on Facebook @Cheryl Johnson.
|The Texas Constitution, amended 498 times since 1876, is a limiting document (it grants authorities that would not exist without voter approval). Voters struck down 179 proposals despite DISMAL participation. Two thirds of both houses is required for voter consideration. Of 216 proposed in the 86th, 10 are on the ballot. All begin with the words “The constitutional amendment…”|
|Prop 1||…permitting a person to hold more than one office as a municipal judge at the same time.|
|Prop 2||…providing for the issuance of additional general obligation bonds by the Texas Water Development Board in an amount not to exceed $200 million to provide financial assistance for the development of certain projects in economically distressed areas.|
|Prop 3||…authorizing the legislature to provide for a temporary exemption from ad valorem taxation of a portion of the appraised value of certain property damaged by a disaster.|
|Prop 4||…prohibiting the imposition of an individual income tax, including a tax on an individual’s share of partnership and unincorporated association income.|
|Prop 5||…dedicating the revenue received from the existing state sales and use taxes that are imposed on sporting goods to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Texas Historical Commission to protect Texas’ natural areas, water quality, and history by acquiring, managing, and improving state and local parks and historic sites while not increasing the rate of the state sales and use taxes.|
|Prop 6||…authorizing the legislature to increase by $3 billion the maximum bond amount authorized for the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas.|
|Prop 7||…allowing increased distributions to the available school fund.|
|Prop 8||…providing for the creation of the flood infrastructure fund to assist in the financing of drainage, flood mitigation, and flood control projects.|
|Prop 9||…authorizing the legislature to exempt from ad valorem taxation precious metal held in a precious metal depository located in this state.|
|Prop 10||…to allow the transfer of a law enforcement animal to a qualified caretaker in certain circumstances.|