Part II - Tax Highlights from the 86th Cheryl E. Johnson, PCC, Galveston County Tax Assessor Collector
As reported in August, 391 property tax bills passed last Session. SB 2 (Property Tax Reform and Transparency Act) and HB 3 (school finance reform) have been widely touted but what about the 389 others, particularly those already in effect or soon to be? Reported are those that could impact you in a big way.
If you ever protested your value or own property in different counties you know appraisal districts (CADs) operate differently. The Comptroller has been tasked with defining and establishing standards from governance to how values are determined and will more fully evaluate taxpayer assistance. I am hopeful that the inner workings – the unexplained activity deep inside the computer – will be thoroughly evaluated, leveling the playing field.
You will be able to request hearing notices by certified or electronic mail and the evidence must arrive a full 15 days before the hearing. Innocuous as it sounds, you or the chief appraiser will be able to file a motion to correct an error on your home if it impacted the value by one-fourth or more (from one-third), Appraisal Review Board (ARB) bias and misbehavior could result in removal by CAD Boards or the State District Administrative Judge (if you ever had a hostile ARB panel you know how important this is).
Both the time to request arbitration (failed in the informal and ARB) has been extended from 45 to 60 days and, if you own contiguous properties, these can be rolled into a single request. Mess up the filing (automatic rejection) – you will have 15 days to fix it. Property tax refunds will now be paid to owners and AG rollback taxes will be three years with 5% interest. I am really excited about recognition of “heir property” as those inheriting a home without a will have a method of establishing ownership and homestead rights.
Sheriff Sales are moving into the 21st Century as online bidding will be permitted if approved by county commissioners and State and Federal law impacting military deferral of taxes has been aligned. Since 2013, certain disaster victims have been protected from exorbitant property taxes when rebuilding through a State disaster reconstruction program but now all, including Harvey victims, will no longer face improvements being classified as new with full taxes being applied at once. Those out of their homes during replacement or repair may keep the homestead exemption up to five years (rather than two).
Not tax related but GREAT news – the JD Lambright Local Government Ethics Reform Act provides for the creation of county ethics commissions (population and location requirements apply) and authorizes commissioners to adopt a code of ethics. Those costly “special” taxing entities like MUDs must record their meetings and post information online.
A listing of the 10 Constitutional Amendments to be voted on November 5th is included below and more detailed information is coming soon here at the Bay Area Entertainer and on Facebook @Cheryl Johnson and @Vote4Cheryl 2020.