Senator Bob Deuell

October 21, 2009


By State Sen. Bob Deuell, R-Greenville

There are few functions of government more confusing and unfair to the average Texan than the property tax appraisal process. Anyone who has had the unfortunate experience of protesting the value of their home can tell you the deck is stacked against you.

State Propositions 2, 3 and 5 are reforms passed during the 81st Session of the Texas Legislature but still require the approval of Texas voters this Nov. 3. These three reforms resulted from House and Senate interim studies of property tax appraisal reform. Hearings were held across the state and residential and business property owners alike asked for these needed reforms.

Propositions 2, 3 and 5 will benefit ALL property taxpayers. These three propositions will protect against runaway residential appraisals, ensure appraisal equity statewide, and streamline appraisal district appeal operations.

Unfortunately, misinformation is being disseminated about what these amendments will actually do. Here are the facts:

PROPOSITION 2 requires the property tax of a residence homestead be solely based on the property's value as a residence homestead - regardless of what it might be worth if purchased for a different use, such as an office or business. This proposal is a response to residence homesteads being appraised based on what a person’s homestead would be worth if it were converted to commercial property. It applies only to residential homesteads and not to second homes or investment properties.

PROPOSITION 3 provides for uniform property tax appraisal standards and procedures to be used by County Appraisal Districts. Currently, property tax appraisal practices and procedures vary widely across the state. This proposition will provide for the equitable treatment of all property owners by ensuring that taxable property is appraised in the same manner no matter where it is located in the state.

PROPOSITION 5 makes it easier to form appraisal review boards for protest hearings. This proposition will allow two or more adjoining county property tax appraisal districts, if they so choose, to consolidate appraisal review board functions. The voluntary ability to consolidate smaller county appraisal review boards will help resolve property tax appraisal protests more quickly and make protesting appraisals more convenient for property owners, especially in lesser-populated areas of Texas.

Taxpayer advocates are calling these proposals the “most significant reforms for property taxpayers in 30 years.” Texans need these new protections against property tax appraisal abuse.