We urge the Texas Legislature to fix the property tax appraisal process. The current system is placing an unfair burden on home owners, making Austin and Travis County increasingly unaffordable:
Click read more for a post on why we should sign this petition.
I urge members to sign the petition because it seeks equal and uniform taxation for all property owners.
The current property tax system favors commercial property owners at the expense of residential property owners. A report by the State Comptroller's Office shows that since 2000, the property tax burden in Austin and across Texas has shifted from commercial and industrial property owners to single-family homeowners. In 2000, single-family homeowners paid 45% of all property taxes, but by 2012, they paid 54% of all property taxes.
Texas is a non-disclosure state and doesn't require commercial, industrial, or residential property owners to provide appraisal districts with information necessary to determine market value. Appraisal districts are required by state law to appraise property at market value, yet the law does not require property owners to provide appraisal districts with information to do so.
According to the Travis County Appraisal District (TCAD), an increasing number of commercial property owners do not protest or challenge appraisals on the basis of market value, but rather file an appeal on the basis of equity, where equitable commercial property is much harder to find.
For example, TCAD appraised the AMD campus on Southwest Parkway at $177 million in 2010. AMD sued TCAD on the basis of equity and the appraised value was reduced to $94 million. Months later, the AMD campus sold for $165 million. Clearly, the reduced appraised value of $94 million was well below the market value of the property.
In 2012, Samsung sued TCAD to reduce its property tax appraisal from $2.7 billion to $1.4 billion. As a result, Travis County, school districts, and the City of Austin lost $11 million in property taxes. (That same year, Austin gave Samsung over $7 million in tax incentives.)
Residential property tax appraisals are more difficult to appeal on the basis of equity because there is a large volume of homogeneous residential properties and appraisal districts are able to gather much more data on residential properties. It's much harder for a residential property owner to make equity comparisons and receive the same level of property value reductions compared to commercial, industrial, and high-end residential property owners.
TCAD indicated that, in Travis County, residential properties are assessed at close to 100% of the market value, while commercial properties are assessed at about 85% of the market value, primarily due to appeals based on equity.
Travis County, the Austin Independent School District, and the City of Austin lose millions of dollars every year in property tax revenue because commercial, industrial, and high-end residential property owners take advantage of equity appeals and non-disclosure laws to unfairly reduce their property tax appraisals.
It's time for the legislature to require sales price disclosure for all real property sales and put limits on equity appeals.
Zilker Neighborhood Resident