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Hi Friend,

It’s coming, and we want to make sure you are prepared for it: the dreaded property tax valuations. So let's talk about property taxes. Why are valuations so high, what we can do about it, and what do we need to watch for?

Let’s start with where in Texas law property tax valuations are outlined: Tax Code Section 23. It states, “Except as otherwise provided by this chapter, all taxable property is appraised at its market value as of January 1. (b)  The market value of property shall be determined by the application of generally accepted appraisal methods and techniques.  If the appraisal district determines the appraised value of a property using mass appraisal standards, the mass appraisal standards must comply with the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice.  The same or similar appraisal methods and techniques shall be used in appraising the same or similar kinds of property.  However, each property shall be appraised based upon the individual characteristics that affect the property's market value, and all available evidence that is specific to the value of the property shall be taken into account in determining the property's market value.”

Now that we see what it states in the Texas Tax Code, let’s talk about the causes behind our valuations jumping so much this year. 

  • The Federal Reserve has kept interest rates near zero, making it cheap to borrow money to buy real estate. Inflation and labor shortages have caused new home prices to increase, allowing existing homes to sell for more. 
  • Despite this, we still had almost 9,500 homes built, a record high for Fort Bend County. 
  • Congress has continued to stimulate the economy with an excess of dollars (also contributing to the inflation we are currently seeing). 
  • And finally, due to Texas’ robust economy and low cost of living, we attract 1,000 new people to our state every. Single. Day. 
As homes sell for higher prices, the market value for all our homes rise. This is reflected in the home valuations calculated by the local appraisal districts. The Fort Bend Central Appraisal District (CAD) anticipates a record high number of homes will see increased property valuation this year. Their team has been meeting with elected officials to preemptively share information and answer our questions to ensure we can best help the people of Fort Bend County navigate the appraisal letters they will be getting this year. 

A very important piece of information to know off the top: the Texas Legislature placed a cap on how much your homestead valuation tax can be increased from one year to the next. This means your home valuation may go up significantly from last year, but you can only be taxed on up to 10% of the increase, regardless of the market value for your home. The Fort Bend CAD anticipates more than 100,000 families will hit this cap this year. This means a significant portion of Fort Bend families will benefit from these caps set by the Texas Legislature. In addition, the Texas Legislature provides mandatory and optional exemptions for counties and local taxing authorities to adopt to provide homeowners with property tax relief. 

The Fort Bend CAD will begin sending out notices of appraised values this month. When you receive yours, you will have two primary ways to lower your tax bill. First, you should check that all exemptions you are eligible for have been applied. Some common ones are listed below, but you can find a complete list on the Fort Bend CAD website. If you think you qualify for an exemption below but did not apply for it prior to this year’s valuations, go ahead and fill out the application for exemptions on the Fort Bend CAD website. Approved exemptions often help with valuations and tax bills for up to two years prior. 
  • General Residence Homestead Exemption: the primary residence of an individual who lived in the residence as of January 1. A portion of the value of the home is deducted and not taxed. Nearly 60% of the residential properties in Fort Bend are currently utilizing this exemption. If you are not, make sure to apply for the exemption on the Fort Bend CAD website. 
  • Over 65 Exemption: This exemption might have been applied automatically if the Fort Bend CAD already had access to the needed documents to verify your age, but double-check your valuation notice to make sure this exemption is listed if you apply. 
  • Disabled Person or Disabled Veteran Exemptions
  • Surviving Spouse over the age of 55 Exemption
  • Surviving Spouse of a Disabled Veteran or Surviving Spouse of a Member of the Armed Forces Killed in Action exemptions
  • Disaster Exemption: if your house was substantially damaged in Winter Storm Uri and you applied for a disaster exemption, make sure it is listed on your valuation. This exemption is different from the ones above because it did need an application last year.  If you did not apply for this exemption already, we are past the window to do so, but if you still have damages to your home from any cause, including a natural disaster, you can use that information if you protest your property valuation as it impacts the current market value of your home.

This brings us to the second option to lower your tax bill: Protest your property value. If you believe your property tax valuation is higher than it should be, you can protest the appraisal online, by mail, or in person. The Fort Bend CAD website has detailed instructions and tutorials on the protest process. While some individuals choose to hire a company to protest the appraisal for them, the Texas Legislature recently mandated the process to be simplified so a homeowner could protest the appraisal on their own, if desired. Protests can be submitted online here: www.fbcad.org/appeals/ or by email at appeals@fbcad.org. Once a protest request is submitted, you are entitled to the documents used by the CAD for determining the value and other pertinent data for making your claim for a lower valuation. These documents include evidence of sales information, which is not automatically publicly available in Texas. The Fort Bend CAD must provide you with the sales information for your home if you file a protest AND request the sales information from them.

To request this information, or ask any questions of your Fort Bend CAD, you can email info@fbcad.org, call (281) 344-8623, visit their website, or visit in person at 2801 B F Terry Blvd, Rosenberg, TX 77471. Their offices are open Monday-Friday from 8am-4:30pm. 

There is another key factor in the determination of your eventual tax bill. That is the tax rate set by your county, school district, city and/or local governing entities. They will set the tax rate based on the total market value taxed to come out to the tax revenue they need to operate and pay debt services. Fort Bend ISD will see an increase from $40,274,461,206 to roughly $51,847,349,057. The 2021 tax rate was $1.2101, applied against the $40 million in market value. The rate would drop to achieve the same tax revenue when applied to the new $51 million in revenue. Nearly every taxing entity will see an increase in taxable value and therefore have a decrease in the tax rate. 

The Texas Legislature also placed a cap on the amount of revenue that counties, cities, school districts, and other taxing entities can collect. That is a 2.5% increase for school districts, and for all other entities, it's a 3.5% increase in tax revenue without voter approval. So almost everyone should see a tax rate decrease and it will be up to the voters to keep an eye on local government spending to ensure only the appropriate tax revenue increase is applied. 

Another helpful website is www.fortbendtax.org. Here, you can put in your address and get a breakdown of the taxing entities you pay property taxes to, how much the tax rates are and when public hearings will be held on tax rates. 

We hope all this information is helpful. The Texas Legislature has taken steps to limit the impacts of property valuation increases and the tax rates set by your local governments. We will continue to explore ways to lower your property tax burden and provide updates along the way, but you have a role to play in this as well. It is also so important to get involved in your local governments and work with them to ensure property tax rates are set appropriately and limits are placed on spending. Elected officials represent you, and tax dollars are your dollars. Make sure you are involved in the process of choosing your representatives and the process of spending your tax dollars. 
Let us know your thoughts!
Our goal is to communicate effectively, with authenticity and simplicity, so that Texans know what and why things are happening, and how to make a difference in their community. We want to empower you with the right information to make things better for yourself, your family, and your neighbors. We will continue to work on this and we want to hear from you about how we can improve on any of the things discussed above.
Jacey Jetton
State Representative
Texas House District 26

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