"As politicians pitch reforms for Texas’ property tax system, the Travis Central Appraisal District is preparing to air its own list of more than a dozen proposed fixes that range from amending key provisions in state law to changing the way appraisal notices are written."
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How the Travis appraisal district wants to make tax system more fair
By Andra Lim - American-Statesman Staff
As politicians pitch reforms for Texas’ property tax system, the Travis Central Appraisal District is preparing to air its own list of more than a dozen proposed fixes that range from amending key provisions in state law to changing the way appraisal notices are written.
Chief Appraiser Marya Crigler said she wants the 14 wide-ranging legislative proposals, which are contained in a briefing the district wrote this month, to be the basis of a public discussion and eventually build a coalition to lobby for change.
“I’m open to any suggestions and all suggestions,” Crigler said. “This is an opportunity to try to find some common ground that will help us get a solution that makes our system one of the best in the country.”
Some of the proposals address the concerns of critics who say the tax system unfairly benefits commercial property owners, while others aim to iron out wrinkles in the appraisal district’s inner workings. Most of the proposals aren’t new, though some have gotten more public attention in the past than others.
The appraisal district’s proposals include:
Require the disclosure of property sales prices, as nearly all states do, to improve the accuracy of commercial and high end residential appraisals.
Allow only owners of properties worth less than $1 million to protest that their value should be lowered to the median appraised value of comparable properties.
Allow experts in commercial and business personal property to handle certain protests instead of members of the appraisal review board who don’t have enough experience. Each expert would preside over hearings alone, rather than a three-member panel of the appraisal review board.
Require those who file a lawsuit to declare early on whether they are arguing their property was not appraised at market value, or was unequally appraised compared to other properties. The appraisal district then wouldn’t have to prepare both a market report and an equity report.
Remove the estimated tax bill amount from the notice of appraised property value so that taxpayer complaints about affordability are directed at taxing entities rather than the appraisal district. (Taxing entities, such as Travis County and the city of Austin, set the rates that determine how much in taxes property owners pay).
Set the protest deadline at 30 days after the notice of appraised value is mailed, which typically happens in early or mid April, to give the appraisal district more time to process protests. State law says the deadline is the later of 30 days after the notice is mailed or May 31.
Require property owners or their agents to sign an oath that the information they provide during informal meetings with appraisers is valid, so there’s not temptation to present inaccurate data. Such an oath is required at formal appraisal review board hearings.
From Austin Stateman