Capitol Office: (512) 463-0564
District Office: (979) 848-1770
Wednesday, May 24, 2017

We must empower Texas tax payers!

This weekend, I passed the Property Tax Payer Empowerment Act in the Texas House to provide the strongest and most far-reaching reforms to the property tax system in decades.  SB 669 will provide more and better information, in a simpler way, to taxpayers, while also giving us greater protection when we choose to use the protest system through an Appraisal Review Board (ARB).

SB 669 includes the following: 

  • Creates a “real-time” tax notice that tells property owners the amount of their tax bill based on their final appraised value and on the tax rates jurisdictions are proposing to adopt and the "no new revenue rate" (a tax rate that brings in the same revenue as last year);

  • Informs taxpayers of the time and location of local budget and tax rate hearings so they can make their voices heard; 

  • Requires all taxing jurisdictions to make available an Internet website that provides basic tax and budget information;

  • Requires the state’s five largest counties to create “special appraisal review board panels” of experts to review values of certain high-dollar properties;

  • Requires formal training for ARB members, which are the people who are listening to the arguments and making decisions about property value;

  • Prohibits Boards from punishing taxpayers who protest by increasing their value above what the appraisal district originally proposed; 

  • Provides property owners with key information about the appeal in a convenient, electronic format rather than hardcopy only;

  • Requires ARB decisions to have a majority majority, rather than a unanimous vote;

  • Makes no changes to the current 8% rollback rate threshold in current law, nor does it make any changes to current petition requirements.

 

Much of the discussion surrounding this bill involved the "rollback rate", which is the rate at which a taxing unit subjects itself to voter petition. I strongly favored lowering the threshold to grant taxpayers greater ability to hold taxing entities accountable.  Unfortunately, my efforts were blocked by a strong and influential faction of county, city, and special district lobbyists.  My legislation that included a lowered rollback rate did not have the backing of a majority of my House Committee on Ways & Means nor did it have a supportive majority of the House Calendars Committee; therefore, I was left with a decision to remove the rollback rate or allow the bill to perish.  

Doing nothing on this issue is not an option.  As your State Representative, I have been sent to Austin to enact real and meaningful change rather than pay lip service that is void of a truly positive impact for the citizens of House District 25 and the State of Texas.  With my amendments, SB 669 enacts reforms that taxpayers will see and use every year when holding local elected officials accountable and working to lower property taxes.