Deadline Approaching: Texans Can Protest Property Tax Assessment Soon

Residents in central Texas are outraged over the 2023 property tax assessments issued by appraisal districts across Hays and Burnet counties. Homeowners have witnessed sharp spikes in their 2023 property values compared to the previous year, leaving several with no other alternative but to protest the decisions which they find to be outrageous. Realtors and homeowners alike are utterly perplexed by the appraisal district decisions.

Speaking to the press, Bill Cafferata, a realtor with CaffGroup | Keller Williams Realty, revealed that he had received numerous phone calls from clients complaining about their property tax assessments since they received them. Mr. Cafferata admitted that his tax assessment for his Dripping Springs property rose by about $150,000 from what it was in 2022.

Austin resident Matt Ball is also feeling the weight of the appraisal decisions. He owns various undeveloped properties in Burnet County, and since 2018, the values have increased by between 200% to 600%, according to Burnet Central Appraisal District assessment reports. One of his properties has witnessed a 10,429% increase in five years, making development entirely unaffordable.

In light of these erratic assessments, Colton Pace, founder and CEO of Austin-based company Ownwell, broke down some probable explanations for the steep increases along with a growing market while helping residents protest assessments. He suggested that new constructions, exemption loss, and other scenarios could explain the increases in assessment rates on different properties.

According to the Hays Country numbers, over 5,000 new homes and 20 new commercial buildings were added to the county, including over $2 billion in taxable value in 2023. Therefore, the assessed value of properties varies depending on the market, with Hays and Travis country witnessing a 29% and 19% increase in property market value, respectively.

Cafferata, however, doubted the accuracy of the assessed values and home market values available on real estate websites based on what he had seen. He explained that the prices had gone back down to where they were since the massive jumps in housing prices recorded in 2020 and 2021. Cafferata recommends that every property owner protests against their taxes this year.

Pace echoed Cafferata’s claim that property taxes must be uniform and subjected to the same pricing model to ensure a fair market value transaction and be deemed equal. Residents could also protest against their property tax assessments. The deadline for filing a complaint in Burnet and Travis county is May 15, while that of Hays County is May 18. The district appraisal also offers residents an opportunity to protest the tax assessments.

A webinar on protesting assessments will take place on May 3 at 11:30 a.m. Residents can register for the event on the Travis Central Appraisal District website. Furthermore, several bills related explicitly to property taxes, such as House Bill 2, which will focus on tightening the cap on yearly assessments, and Senate Bill 3, which seeks to expand the homestead exemption on home values that can’t be taxed, are currently under debate in Texas.

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