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Texas Real Time Tax Notices

by Foy Mitchell, Dallas, February 2019

 

As the Texas Legislature gets to work this session on property tax reform, a new push is underway to get taxpayers more involved in the tax rate setting process.

 

One proposal calls for “real time” tax notices, which would let taxpayers know how the tax rates that local jurisdictions propose to adopt will directly impact their property tax bills.

 

Tax Estimates are Wrong

 

Property owners currently get an advance estimate of their property taxes with their annual appraisal. But according to a research brief from the Texas Taxpayers and Research Association (TTARA), the tax estimate is wrong for two reasons:

 

1.

The property owner may protest their value, reducing what the tax rates will apply to, and

2.

The tax rates used are from last year, and the jurisdiction must adopt new rates each year. TTRA says a better solution that is now possible with modern technology is real time tax notices.

 

Real time notices could provide accurate property tax information to taxpayers in time for them to weigh in on the tax rates that jurisdictions propose to adopt.

 

More Up-to-Date Information

 

Tax jurisdictions would work with the appraisal district to offer real time tax notices. Once a property’s value is final, the owner would get a real time notice based on the tax rates that jurisdictions plan to adopt.

 

Each taxing unit would provide information for the website operated and maintained by their appraisal district about what a “no new revenue” tax rate would be, what the taxing unit proposes as the adopted tax rate, and how much in taxes would be generated by each.

 

In addition, there would also be details with the date, time, and location of each public hearing on a taxing unit’s proposed rate. This would give taxpayers time to make plans to attend and express their opinions. No longer would property owners be required to search the newspaper for numerous websites to find out when the hearings are scheduled.

 

Previous Attempts Have Failed

 

In 2017, a series of reforms were proposed to get rid of the estimate of tax due on appraisal notices. House Bill 15, sponsored by Rep. Dennis Bonnen would have spelled out more clearly how tax rates directly impact tax bills. At the time Bonnen said, “Our property tax system is needlessly confusing and discourages citizens from taking an active role in the local rate-setting process.”

 

This measure was just one of many that failed in both the regular legislative session and the special session on property tax reform. Proponents are hoping for better results this year.