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TAA urges action on property taxes

Synopsis

The Texas Apartment Association is calling on Gov. Greg Abbott to take action to limit property taxes that are out of whack with the current economic climate.


Key takeaways

  • Texas Apartment Association Executive Vice President Chris Newton recently called on Gov. Greg Abbott and state leaders to take action to address property valuations and tax rates that don’t reflect the current economic climate.
  • In particular, TAA is urging state leaders to hold local taxing authorities to the lowered tax “rollback” rates approved during the last legislative session.
  • TAA has also taken steps recently to help members deal with property tax issues, including a free webinar last month addressing property taxes in light of COVID-19.

With concerns over rising property valuations that do not reflect the current economic climate, Texas Apartment Association Executive Vice President Chris Newton recently wrote Gov. Greg Abbott urging him to take action to limit property taxes.

“I am writing you to encourage you and other state leaders to continue using all tools at your disposal to ensure both valuations and tax rates for property taxes take into account the impacts of the COVID 19 crisis.”

In particular, Newton urged the governor to continue to press local governments as they begin to work on budgets for the upcoming fiscal year to restrict increases in tax levies to be in line with the provisions in SB 2 from the 2019 legislative session. This law limits property tax increases to 3.5 percent without voter approval.

SB 2 lowered the “rollback rate” for property taxes for most local governments from 8 percent to 3.5 percent but included an exception that allowed the rate to go back to 8 percent for disasters.

While the language is not explicitly clear, state leaders including Gov. Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick have maintained that the language was intended to apply only to natural disasters.

Others, including the Texas Municipal League, which represents cities, have said the language allows local governments to raise property taxes up to 8 percent without voter approval since a disaster was declared due to the coronavirus.

(One positive sign is that on May 27, the Dallas City Council rejected a resolution on an 11-3 vote that would have calculated a property tax rate increasing city revenues from property taxes by 8 percent—although any actual increases would still have been done as part of the city’s budget process.)

Property tax issues remain one of TAA’s top priorities in addition to responding to the COVID-19 crisis. Over the past several months, TAA’s government affairs team has continuously raised concerns over property tax issues when communicating with legislators and other elected officials.

TAA has also offered two property tax webinars to members this year, including one done in conjunction with the Texas Taxpayers and Research Association that was offered on May 4. Listen to a recording of that webinar.

TAA has also begun outreach to other commercial property stakeholders in anticipation of property tax reform being a major topic during the 2021 legislative session.

In the near term, the most effective things members can do to help control property taxes is to challenge their valuations and raise concerns regarding property taxes when local governments go through their budgeting process during the summer and early fall.

More from June 2020 Member Newsletter

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