Property Tax Reform Includes More Transparency

As Texas lawmakers take up the property tax reform championed by both Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, the effort goes beyond simply capping the rate of growth in tax rates. Part of the reform involves making the entire property tax reform process more transparent and interactive for taxpayers. Jennifer Rabb , tax policy expert with Rice University’s Baker Institute, testified this week before the Texas Senate Committee on Property Tax about the importance of what she calls "bringing the power of the Digital Age to the property tax process."

While many property owners now get sticker shock when their annual tax bill arrives, resulting in them challenging the appraised value of their home or property, this proposal would get them involved much earlier when the tax rates are actually set. "Each year in the fall, local governing bodies adopt their tax rate for the year, and it's really the adopted tax rate when it’s applied to the appraised value that determines how much a person has to pay," says Rabb. "The Legislature should give taxpayers a process around the tax rate that is similar to what the process is for appraisal notices."

This proposal calls for electronic notices to go out to property owners before rates are set in the fall. "These notices would give taxpayers the information about what the proposed tax rate is, how much they would have to pay under that rate, and then when the hearings are held," says Rabb. She tells KTRH that this would allow property owners to be proactively involved "earlier in the process, giving taxpayers the opportunity to give their input when tax rates are being set, rather than relying on a rollback election which is after the fact."

The proposal is part of both HB2 and SB2 , the two property tax reform bills now under consideration in the Legislature.


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