Houston's Boom Economy Pushes Property Taxes to New Heights!
By Paul Bettencourt
Last year the Houston Metro Area's "Boom" Economy created nearly an incredible 119,000 jobs, and the resulting "up" commercial and residential real estate market is the hottest one in the country. Property Tax rolls exploded based upon their January 1st, 2013 property valuation by the Harris County Appraisal District to new heights even after receiving nearly 200,000 protests; however, this summer the Appraisal Review Boards only made small reductions in hearings.
For example, all class "A+" Office Buildings Downtown where a lot of these new employees work in Houston saw their averages go "UP" by 53% in one year by HCAD! The Appraisal Review Boards reduced their values in hearings by 5% only, leaving values up an astonishing 48% net or nearly half in just one year! That's Billions of dollars to the tax rolls of both HISD and the City of Houston , and along with all the other residential and commercial value increases pushed their entire property tax rolls up 11.1% and 10.6% higher respectively in just this year.
That is an astounding $138 Million more for the Houston Independent School District and $102 Million dollars more into the City of Houston coffers when taxpayers pay their bills by the January 31st, 2014 Tax bill due date. Because of left over tax rate capacity from the Texas Legislature, HISD proposed another 4 pennies of TAX RATE increase that would drive the total tax revenue increase to nearly $180 Million dollars more less allowances for refunds, nearly a 15% INCREASE!!
That's where your "Taxman" stepped in to ask for tax relief for all taxpayers because adding that much rate increase on top of a huge appraised valuation hike is like throwing gasoline on Taxpayer's checkbooks! I presented the evidence of these increases using the Harris County Tax Office's last estimates already provided to the financial departments of both HISD, the City of Houston, and every other major taxing jurisdiction in Harris County.
I could tell at the meeting that the seven attending HISD Trustees had not seen the revised figures, as a lively debate took hold of the meeting for nearly an hour. It would have helped the Taxpayers' cause for Greg Meyers to have been in attendance as he is a known budget questioner at the district, but the roll fell to Trustee Harvin Moore who spoke up and established in questions to the district's CFO that revenue estimates had gone up from 6%, to 8%, to finally that night 10% up over last year's property tax collections!
Based upon that answer trustee Moore offered an amendment to reduce the increase by a penny saving District Taxpayers $12 Million dollars in their pockets. The astounding thing or two about all this for the reader to consider is:
1) Nowhere in established print media, or on the Internet has anyone published the overwhelming facts that HISD is getting $168 Million more dollars in Property Tax revenues much less the City getting $102 Million more dollars!
2) It took two folks, myself and Tammy Betancourt from the BOMA trade organization (No relation to the Taxman), coming to the HISD tax rate vote to bring this to light. A couple of good local TV news organizations carried these record Tax Bill increases, with one anchorwoman remarking, "Why not, everyone is interested in Taxes!"
The public needs to be told in advance in plain English by effective public notices and unbiased serious media coverage how much more of their money is really flowing into Governmental coffers, and at the same time the public needs to wake up and take this issue seriously! Next year, due to a record 28 Months of Market Sales Activity, Houston home values will explode 10% or more almost wherever you own a home in the Greater Houston Area.
It means that government is going to get used to taking 10% more in property taxes 2 years in a row, and that is the beginnings of Bad Public Policy decisions all around. To be sure, HISD like many Texas School Districts doesn't keep all the local property tax revenues they collect due to so called "Robin-Hood" school financing formulas. However, what does happen is that local property taxpayers pay more each year, and the State of Texas lowers what state aid it sends HISD backing up Billions of Dollars in the State Treasury if you include all school districts in the state over a two year biennium budget. There is a lot to do both locally and in Austin to try to get these property tax bill increases under control, and you'll find your "Taxman" doing his best on both ends for our hard pressed taxpayers!
Until then the bottom line is we can't let even local government grow 10% a year, otherwise the cost to Taxpayers doubles in just seven years. That's at least twice as fast as population and inflation rates combined, and what will happen is that you can pay off your Banker's 30 year Mortgage on your Home, but you will never pay off the Government Tax Collector.
Property Tax Services Offered by BTA
We believe that "It's All About the Taxpayers". In today's economic environment of rising property values, your best remedy is a successful property tax protest and appeal process.
Paul Bettencourt's team of State Licensed Senior Property Tax Consultants, Property Tax Consultants, and Customer Service Representatives are committed to helping you reduce your property tax liability. Our property tax consulting team at BTA has over 120 years experience in the property tax industry as well as over 5 decades working at the CADs. And, we currently represent properties in 122 Texas counties and 6 states.
Basic Property Tax Services Available to All BTA Customers:
File Property Tax Protests
Market & Sales Analysis Program
Equity Assessment Program
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Attending Informal & Formal Hearings
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Litigation Support & Management
Additional Property Tax Services Available to Commercial Customers:
|Income & Cost Analysis
Business Personal Property (BPP) Renditions
BPP Inventory Appraisals
|TCEQ Environmental Exemptions
Review Other Exemption Options
Annual Property Tax Budget Estimates
Litigation & Arbitration
The 3rd step in the protest appeal process. Property value appeals are typically 25% of all civil litigation at the court house. If there is a strong case for a value reduction and the county appraisal district will not agree to it, Bettencourt Tax Advisors will provide litigation and arbitration management and support on your behalf. Paul Bettencourt attended every litigation mediation in 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013 to provide his assistance and expertise, as needed.
If you would like to discuss any aspect of litigation or arbitration support and management, please contact BTA today!
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Signing-Up is Easy, with your county tax number and property address in hand, go to our Account Sign-Up Page and enter the information we need to defend your property. We will be sending you confidential information, so please use a valid e-mail address. If you are a Commercial Client and have more than five properties or are interested in protesting your BPP, please call the office at (713) 263-6100 and ask for someone in the Commercial Department.
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