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Appraisal district concerned about bill changing property tax appeals

Posted at 9:41 PM, May 28, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-28 23:11:40-04

A bill recently passed during the 86th session of the Texas Legislature will allow property owners to appeal years-old tax bills and seek refunds.

While it sounds like a good deal for the average homeowner, Nueces County chief appraiser Ronnie Canales says the results could be disastrous.

“It’s kind of lunacy, to be honest,” Canales told KRIS 6 News.

The Fort Worth lawmaker who filed the bill says it’s not designed for retroactive protests, but rather for people who lost their protest over clerical errors to go back and correct them. However, there is no specified time limit outlined in the bill. Currently, property owners have to file their protests 30 days from the time they receive a notice or May 15, whichever date is later. Once a decision is made, they have 60 days to file an appeal in district court.

Canales argues that taking away the deadline creates a budgeting nightmare for the city, county, CCISD and other taxing districts.

“Everybody makes a budget before or by the end of September, okay, to run for the following year. So when you start asking for these refunds, then it creates a bigger problem for the budgets that are already in place,” Canales explained.

When it comes to industrial and other large property owners who make up a big portion of the tax base, Canales said it can especially wreak havoc with millions of dollars potentially at stake.

Ultimately, he said the local entities would be left to make up the deficit with homeowners and small business owners bearing the brunt of that cost.

“It’s gonna cost you by how? Probably cutting services to what we normally do, services for quality of life,” Canales said of services like trash pick-up and public safety.

Because of this bill, he believes these services will take suffer in the near future.

“In the next 2 to five years, you’ll see the difference and it’s not going to be positive. It’s going to be negative.”

This bill was already signed into law by Governor Greg Abbott. It will take effect on September 1.