Help with Texas Property Taxes

One of the hottest topics being discussed right now in the Austin area is Texas property taxes. It can be confusing and frustrating for homeowners who are trying to navigate their finances in this economy. To try to help our friends and neighbors make sense of the Texas property tax system, the Crawford Realty Group will be offering a series of informational blog posts to help us all gain a better understanding of what it is, how it works and solutions for those who need help with their property taxes. Whether you already own a home or are planning to buy a home in the Austin area, this series in for you!

One thing to be aware of is that the State of Texas does not have a property tax. All taxes are determined and collected by local governments within the state. Counties, cities, school districts and special districts set budgets for providing public service and tax rates are set based on those budgets.

The first step in becoming an informed taxpayer is understanding the Texas property tax structure. This article will give you an overview of the basics of who participates and what their role is in the collection and disbursement of the money collected in tax dollars from Austin area taxpayers.

The first and most key player is you! The Texas home and property owner! You are the taxpayer and provide the largest financial contribution to community infrastructure and services. Without you, the roads, schools, police, fire departments and many other public services cannot exist. Texas property owners are vital to the community.

Each county has an appraisal district. It is overseen by a chief appraiser who is hired by the district’s board of directors. This board of directors is elected by local taxing units, which also fund the district with tax dollars levied in each unit. Your local appraisal district can offer information about how your property is appraised and exemptions.

Disagreements between Texas property owners and the appraisals districts about property values and tax are heard by the appraisal review board. If the population is under 120,00 the ARB is appointed by the board of directors. In larger counties, members are appointed by the local administrative district judge. Your appraisal district can tell you how to contact your ARB if you wish to dispute the appraised value of your property.

So what are taxing units? These are the community resources and services that depend on the funding that comes from property taxes. Schools, cities, counties, special districts and special interests that determine the tax rates based on the budgets they set in order to serve the public. Though local property taxes are vital to funding these budgets, some receive funds through other state and federal sources.

The county tax assessor-collector is contracted to collect property taxes in most counties in Texas. The money is then transferred to each taxing unit. The appraisal district does not levy a property tax, they may be contracted by taxing units to collect the taxes. To get information about local tax rates and local taxing unit budgets, contact the school district, special district, city or county individually and ask for the information.

The Comptroller’s office conducts a property value study every other year for individual school districts. This study is done to ensure that each school district is getting fair state funding by ensuring that the properties in the district are at or near market value. The Comptroller’s office Property Tax Assistance  Division is mainly for monitoring purposes and the PVS values set do not impact local property taxes, as those amounts are determined locally.

The Maps and Program reviews are also performed by the PTAD every two years. The four areas that are the subjects for these reviews are operating and appraisal standards, governance, procedures and methodologies and taxpayer assistance. Nearly half of all districts are reviewed annually. In the years that a district does not get a MAP review, a PVS reviewed is done.

Now that we know the entities involved with Texas Property taxes, we will explore how they figure into the journey of our tax dollars in our next installment when we discuss the timeframe and processes of property tax collection.

If you are buying or selling a home in the Central Texas area, contact the experts at Crawford Realty Group to learn more or arrange a showing. If you'd like to have homes for sale in these areas emailed to you, sign up for our free home finder service and specify which types of homes you'd like to receive updates about.

Posted by Monty Crawford on


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