Property Tax Reform

The problem is clear: Our appraisal process is broken. Travis County homeowners are bearing the brunt of an unfair tax system. Residential tax appraisals have more than doubled in a recent ten year period while all other categories of property appraisals are much lower. The Texas legislature created a loophole in 2003 to allow property owners to protest their property valuations using a formula different than the one homeowners use. This has allowed commercial property owners to consistently lower their appraisals. Lower appraisals means they pay less tax on their property. As a result the burden for higher taxes has shifted on to homeowners.

The real tragedy is that high property taxes are forcing out many of the people who have helped make Austin and Travis County such a great place to live. It’s also reducing the number of students in neighborhood schools and could eventually lead to school closures. The broken appraisal system is also robbing our community of revenue to sufficiently fund everything from education to healthcare to transportation. Fixing that process is essential to making Austin more affordable. I intend to repair the system in a number of ways, including:

  • Organizing a statewide coalition of counties, cities, school districts, community college districts, health care districts, and others to put pressure on the legislature to fix this problem. Click here to sign my petition to the Texas Legislature;
  • Collaborating with the Travis County Appraisal District and providing it with tools it needs to level out the property tax burden;
  • I will work to convene a "special tax summit" with the other overlapping jurisdictions--the city, AISD, ACC, Central Health, etc to examine what can be done to correct the unfair burden that the broken appraisal process is putting on homeowners.
  • If all else fails, advocating for additional homestead exemptions for Travis County residential taxpayers.

If high property taxes are hurting you and you'd like to share your story please email [email protected] 

Read what the Austin American Statesman has been saying on the issue below (subscription may be required): 

11/7/13: WE SAY: TAXES As big businesses pay less of the property tax tab, homeowners pay more 

"Since 2010, Travis County property owners have obtained discounts on their property values totaling $1.8 billion. In actual dollars, that totals $40 million. It’s a number big enough to finance construction of the Austin school district’s performing arts center and hire 500 Austin firefighters. There still would be enough left over to keep the Trail of Lights lit during holidays for the next 40 years. Those discounts that go mostly to big businesses have become routine thanks to state laws that have tilted the tax and appraisal system in favor of those wealthy enough to exploit them."

11/2/13: Shifting the Tax Burden: Businesses are winning in the court or through settlements to get their tax valuations lowered.

"Large businesses have turned to the courts to systematically lower their property tax bills by millions of dollars, shifting the tax burden to homeowners. County appraisers say once they become the target of such lawsuits, the system is so stacked against them that the litigation becomes the equivalent of bringing a penknife to a gunfight." 

9/28/13: Statesman In-Depth: Tax Fairness; Appraisals shift tax burden 

"The Statesman’s rough estimate of the potential tax dollars that the adjusted valuations cost public schools, city, county, health district and Austin Community College last year: about $113 million. Of that, the Austin school district would have been due as much as $58 million — enough to offset what the Legislature cut from the school district’s funding in the state’s 2013 budget and to build the new boys’ school, put on hold for lack of money."

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