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Growing tax bills Galveston County*
Galveston and Harris counties have seen median home values climb in value over the past several years, whereas tax rates have only slightly decreased. This combines to result in increasing tax bills for homeowners. SOURCES: U.S. CENSUS BUREAU ANNUAL COMMUNITY SURVEY 5YEAR DATA, GALVESTON COUNTY, HARRIS COUNTY, HOUSTON, LEAGUE CITY, CLEAR CREEK ISDCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • Amount paid Figuring out the formula = (home value ÷ 100) x tax rate
to protest the value of their home if they believe it was appraised higher than it is worth—something John- son encourages every homeowner to do. Through the protest process, residents can show evidence their appraisal should be lower, and if suc- cessful, they end up paying less in property taxes. Galveston County data shows in 2022, about 52,600 property owners, or 41% of those who saw increases, protested their appraisals. The per- centage of those who were suc- cessful is pending until all protests are concluded later this year. In 2021, 46% protested, and over 77% were successful. Similarly, 357,000 of the 1.12 mil- lion Harris County residences that saw appraisal increases in 2022 were protested. That means 32% of those who saw increases protested versus the 34%—80% of which were success- ful—in 2021. Johnson speculated many home- owners who saw increases in 2021 during COVID-19 had the time and motivation to protest, which may have diminished this year. “People are weary. I think that’s why fewer people are [protesting],” she said. “Most are too frustrated to do it, quite frankly, and it’s a shame.” Reform eorts In addition to protesting appraisals, homestead exemptions are another way homeowners can reduce their tax bills. These exemptions remove a portion of a home’s value from being taxed, and they cap how much a home’s taxable value can increase year over year to 10%. However, in Johnson’s and Hen- ry’s opinion, protests and homestead exemptions are not enough. Galveston County is one taxing entity among many that tries to lower its tax rate every year to make up for growing property values. Since 2010, the county has decreased its tax rate 33% to $0.41494 per $100 valuation, according to county records. Harris County has been decreasing its tax rate since at least 2018. As of 2021, the county’s tax rate was nearly 10% lower than it was in 2017. But even as the rates drop, property values increase faster, often leading to bigger tax bills for homeowners year over year, Johnson said. “It’s a bad system, and it’s one that needs to be xed,” Henry said. Johnson, Henry, Bonnen and others
+31.97% in home values in four years +27.49% in tax bills in four years
$160K $145K $175K $205K $190K
+30.08% in home values in four years +20.58% in tax bills in four years
*TAX RATES ARE EXAMPLES BASED ON A MEDIAN HOME BEING TAXED BY LEAGUE CITY, CLEAR CREEK ISD AND GALVESTON COUNTY. **TAX RATES ARE EXAMPLES BASED ON A MEDIAN HOME BEING TAXED BY HOUSTON, CLEAR CREEK ISD AND HARRIS COUNTY.
among others, to convince lawmakers to provide property tax relief to Texans in the upcoming legislative session, which will begin in January. As tax-as- sessor collector, Johnson helps deter- mine and collect taxes. “People are getting taxed out of their homes,” she said. In addition, the rise in overall prop- erty values across the Greater Hous- ton area has caused some prospective homeowners to be priced out of the housing market all together, Apart- mentData.com CEO Bruce McClenny said. This results in those people entering the renting market to seek apartments and other types of rental housing, which has also caused an explosion in rent rates. Appraisal concerns Every year in each county, apprais- ers value homes and other properties at their market value as of Jan. 1 of that year. They determine this amount based on various factors, including what homes of similar sizes and loca- tion are selling for, said Jack Barnett, chief communications ocer for the Harris County Appraisal District. Homeowners are then mailed their appraisal, which shows what their home was appraised for and the value they will be taxed for. Many resi- dences across the Greater Houston area are seeing appraisal increases, ocials said. Of Harris County’s 1.8 million par- cels, more than 97% of residential
properties and more than 95% of com- mercial properties saw increases year over year in 2022, according to HCAD data. This is the highest percentage of increasing property values since at least 2011 with 2021 being the next closest with 86% of residential and 87% of commercial properties seeing year-over-year increases. “This year there was just a lot going on in the economy, and values kept increasing,” Barnett said. “It was a very unusual year for values going up.” According to Galveston County tax-assessor collector data, 128,000 of the county’s 230,000 parcels—or about 55%—saw appraisal increases in 2022. This is the highest amount since at least 2015, excluding 2021, which had more than 135,000 increases. “They are really bad,” Henry said of increasing appraisals, noting he owns a property that increased from $100,000 to $400,000 in a single year. In addition to the high number of increases this year, the increases themselves are large, Johnson said. “We’re seeing huge value increases,” she said. “People are ooding the state, buying property. … That’s creat- ing a very hot market.” Additionally, there is a shortage of inventory, making the market even hotter. Homes in Friendswood, where Johnson lives, can sell for $100,000 to $200,000 above the asking price to highly motivated buyers, she said. Homeowners have the opportunity
Homeowners can le an appraisal protest, which varies by county but generally follows these steps: After receiving your appraisal notice, if you believe the appraisal to be higher than your home’s value, visit your county’s appraisal district website and le the required forms to protest. Some districts, such as the Harris County Appraisal District, allow you to give an estimate of what the home’s value should be. The appraisal district may counteroer and allow you to accept its new oer without a hearing. If you still wish to protest, gather evidence of why your home’s value is lower, such as required repairs and cost estimates. Use the lower values of similar properties in your neighborhood as evidence that your appraisal should be lower, too. During a hearing with the district, you will be allowed to protest your appraisal and negotiate the amount . During the protest, tell the truth, or you lose credibility. If an agreement is reached, you will be mailed the new appraisal , which will be the value you are taxed that year.
SOURCE: GALVESTON COUNTY TAXASSESSOR COLLECTORCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER
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