By: Sherrie Shorten
NEW CANEY – The Atrium Center was packed for the 2022 Property Tax Workshop to educate Montgomery County residents on their rights regarding property appraisals.
With homeowners experiencing double and triple increases in their property values, Chief Appraiser Tony Belinoski and Tax Assessor-Collector Tammy McRae are holding workshops in various parts of the county to explain the state laws affecting property values and the tax rate.
Belinoski presented data from the Texas A&M Real Estate Research Center showing property values in Montgomery County and the surrounding counties have all increased over 30% since last year and are projected to continue to increase in the future.
Belinoski also cited Texas Code Section 23.01, which states the appraiser is required to appraise properties at 100% of the market value. The Texas Comptroller is so adamant about the appraisals being at or near fair market value that they are auditing the appraisals used to determine school taxes.
Since the state supplements school taxes, if the Comptroller finds property values are not at 100% of their fair market value, then the State will penalize the school district by denying a portion of their funds, leaving taxpayers to make up the difference.
When the State requires property values to be appraised at 100% of the fair market value, it maximizes the school taxes collected at the local level and reduces the burden on the state budget since the State’s responsibility will be lower.
Protesting Property Values
The deadline to file a property value protest is May 16, 2022. Protests can be filed online or by completing the “Property Owner’s Notice of Protest” form included in the envelope with the appraised value.
Belinoski emphasized the need for property owners to bring pictures and comparable sales as documentation for their disagreement with the property value. The value is based on the condition of the property as of January 1, 2022. Documentation is required to prove the disputed value of your home.
Belinoski stated, “Texas is a non-disclosure state.” Therefore, the sales price of every real estate transaction is not required to be disclosed. Without sales data, it is difficult to assess the fair market value of every property.
With approximately 250,000 residential properties in Montgomery County, Belinoski’s team relies on only 7,000 to 9,000 comparable sales across the county with disclosed values. Belinoski said the MLS database contains the sales prices for all properties sold through a realtor, but as a government agency, the Montgomery County Appraisal District is not allowed access to the MLS database.
Belinoski suggested speaking to a realtor to obtain comparable sales information and bring the MLS data sheet(s) to the property value protest.
If the property owner is unsatisfied with the results of the protest, they have the right to request the dispute be heard by the Appraisal Review Board, which is a separate entity from the Appraisal District.
The Appraisal Review Board settles property value disputes between the property owner and the Appraisal District.
Exemptions can reduce the taxable value of your home, if you qualify. A list of the available residential exemptions is on the Montgomery County Appraisal District website.
Each taxing jurisdiction (county, city, school district, MUD, ESD, Lone Star College) has the right to adopt any of the listed exemptions. The taxing entities are not required to adopt these exemptions, instead they are “allowed” to adopt them by state law.
Please check with each taxing jurisdiction and file any available exemptions. Belinoski stated, “[The Appraisal District] can go back two years and add the exemption to the account if the property owner has been living on the property for the last two years.”
The tax rate set by each taxing jurisdiction determines the amount of property taxes homeowners pay.
McRae encouraged citizens to participate in the process of setting local tax rates. Cities, school districts, MUDs, and ESDs hold budget workshops just like the county. Citizens should attend the meetings and voice their concerns before the tax rate is approved.
McRae advocated for the “No New Revenue” tax rate because it is the calculated rate that keeps property taxes at the same level as last year. While the county has passed the “No New Revenue” tax rate, very few cities or school districts have passed it.
McRae said, “If any taxing jurisdiction tells you they adopted the same tax rate as last year, that’s a tax increase.” When property appraisals go up, the same tax rate as last year yields a higher property tax bill.
Citizens need to attend the budget and tax rate meetings for all of the various taxing jurisdictions and let those entities know they want the “No New Revenue” tax rate and a budget that doesn’t exceed the property taxes collected under the “No New Revenue” tax rate.
Citizens can follow the tax rate process for their property at mocotaxes.org beginning July 25, 2022. As they become available, the website will list the calculated tax rates for each taxing jurisdiction.
The next 2022 Property Tax Workshop will be held on April 19, 2022 at 2235 Lake Robbins, Spring, Texas 77380 beginning at 5:30 pm.