by Mike Sullivan
What could be worse than having your home damaged by Hurricane Harvey? Getting a tax bill for the full pre-flood value of your home. That’s adding insult to injury.
We have all heard that death and taxes are certain. Taxpayers can be certain that the 2017 property tax bill will arrive in your mailbox in the next 30 days. Those tax bills will reflect the appraised value of your home as of January 1, 2017. And for those whose home were damaged that value will be assessed at the value before flooding, not after. That is wrong and it must be fixed.
The Texas Property Tax Code allows taxing jurisdictions like the county, city, and school district to have property reappraised following a disaster and an emergency declaration by the Governor. Why? Because it’s the right thing to do.
No one could think it was fair to make a property owner pay taxes on the full, pre-disaster, value of that property. No one could think it was right to force a property owner who is already struggling to recover from a disaster to pay taxes based upon what their home used to be worth – before it was damaged. No one.
Now is the time for jurisdictions to step up and do the right thing. It is time to conduct disaster reappraisals on all properties that were flooded. Each and every taxing jurisdiction should contact HCAD and begin the reappraisal process immediately. Waiting until next year’s appraisals and tax bills will be too little, too late.
I’ve called for disaster reappraisals before, and now I’m calling for them again. The people whose homes were flooded are my neighbors, people that I go to church with, and people that I have worked hard to represent over the last 12 years.
So, to all taxing jurisdictions – disaster reappraisals are the right thing to do, and they should be done now.
Former Harris County Tax Assessor-Collector & Houston City Council Member