The Texas tax code historically has operated on a principle of fairness — that everyone pays their fair share of property taxes to finance such things as public schools and roadways. Certainly there were arguments over loopholes that favored one interest group or another. Similarly, there have been disagreements about the amount of taxes local jurisdictions should levy. In such a system, there have always been some winners, those who benefit at the expense of the rest. But such favoritism existed mostly within acceptable margins until a decade ago. Since then, there has been a huge shift that has regular homeowners paying more of the property tax tab and commercial properties paying less. It’s legal but nonetheless unfair.
Two things working in tandem are driving the trend: Texas is one of just a few states that do not require some form of disclosure of property sales prices. Without such data, it’s tough to assess high-dollar properties accurately. The second factor is the growth of equity appeals, brought to us in 2003 by the Legislature. The provision in the tax code permits property owners to protest their valuation based on the median appraisal values of comparable properties or so-called equity appeals.
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