What happens to appraisals and taxes after COVID

Property appraisals will stay the same as they were assessed in January 2020 even as Gov. Gregg Abbott encourages local governments not to raise property tax rates.

The average taxable value, minus any exemptions, increased 8.76 percent, according to figures released by the Hays Central Appraisal District.

Each year, the Hays County Appraisal District sends out notices to property owners, as is customary across the state. Property owners have 30 days to contest the appraisals, and this year, the deadline was May 15.

Hays County Chief Appraiser Laura Raven said despite COVID-19 they are opening appeals at the same rate as last year. So far, more than 14,000 appeals have been filed. Last year there were about 22,000 protest appeals, but this year she expects to exceed that number.

“More than half the appeals were sent online or through email and that definitely speeds up the process because we don’t have to manually enter data,” Raven said. “Our staff is working diligently either at the office or at home.”

The protest appeal process remains the same and only protested property appraisals might change.

“There has to be a law to change the way we appraise properties and, so far, that hasn’t happened,” Raven said.

Several Texas lawmakers sent a letter to Abbott asking the Texas State Legislature “to suspend any raises, interest and penalties on Texas property taxes for the current taxable year.”

Raven said the tax bill can be different for everyone depending on applied new exemptions and tax rates, which are set by local governments.

Local governmental entity tax rates are usually set during the summer when budgets are set in time for the next fiscal year.

In a press conference addressing the letter from lawmakers, Abbott said he encourages local government officials not flip the coronavirus tab on taxpayers.

“Property owners shouldn’t be saddled with rising property taxes while dealing with a pandemic,” Abbott said. “As a result, local governments, who set property tax rates, should find ways to reduce the tax burden on Texans. Whether we’re facing times of challenge or times of prosperity – raising taxes on the people of Texas is never the answer.”

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