Senator Bettencourt Responds to Calls for Property Tax Reform
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By: De Castillo
AUSTIN, TX — After conducting eight blockbuster hearings in seven cities and taking almost 50 hours of testimony that overwhelmingly called for property tax relief, Senator Paul Bettencourt (R- Houston) filed Senate Bill 2, the Texas Property Tax Reform and Relief Act of 2017, with co- authors Sens. Brandon Creighton, Kelly Hackond Van Taylor, and released the Senate Select Committee on Property Tax Reform and Relief’s interim report.
The Select Committee was charged by Lt. Governor Dan Patrick to study the property tax process, including the appraisal system, and to examine and develop options to reduce the tax burden on property owners.
“Texas taxpayers have been facing property tax bills that are increasing 2.5 to 3 times faster than median household income,” said Senator Bettencourt, chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Property Tax Reform and Relief. “Throughout Texas, in hearing after hearing, the Select Committee heard the same message loud and clear: Texans areasking for and deserve property tax relief. Whether it was homeowners testifying that they are unable to keep up with their property tax bills, small business owners seeing their hard earned profits go out the window, or even big businessestestifying that they are locating new plants and taking jobs out of Texas due to high property taxes, they are all saying thatproperty taxes are rising too fast in Texas.”
Average home property tax appraisals have risen 22 – 24 percent over two years in the Dallas- Fort Worth area, 20 percent in San Antonio over two years, and 12% a year in Austin for three straight years. In Harris County, average home propertytax bills are up 36% in just three years.
“From a taxpayer winding up in handcuffs just for asking questions, to open collusion between a chief appraiser and appraisal review board chairman in a hearing, to protest hearings scheduled on July 3, the stories about what has actually been happening to taxpayers at appraisal districts across the state demand immediate changes in how taxpayers are treated,”Senator Betten court continued.
The Select Committee’s interim report contains several examples of poor practices around the state that have already been stopped due to the Select Committee’s direct questioning of officials involved in the appraisalprocess. Senate Bill 2 contains substantial changes to appraisal district oversight so the best practices can be adhered to in every one of the county appraisal districts in Texas.
“I would like to thank Senate Select Committee members Creighton, Hancock, Lucio, Perry, Van Taylor, and Uresti, as well as a half dozen other Senators who joined the Select Committee at our hearings in various cities, plus Lt. Governor Dan Patrick for participating in these hearings. Fifty hours of public testimony has never been taken before in this manner, but the need for property tax relief is clear to Texas taxpayers that see their property tax bills rising faster than their paychecks year after year.”
Senate Bill 2 and the full interim committee report can be viewed online at: www.senate.texas.gov/ptaxrr.