Breaking It Down: This Is How the New Texas Property Tax Law Affects You

Oh joy. After years of trying, state lawmakers passed a biggie. A property tax bill that fixes some major flaws in the system.Senate Bill 2, the Texas Property Tax Reform and Transparency Act of 2019, is 153 pages long. It's now a law, but it's also a cliché of sorts: the law won't lower your taxes but it will slow their growth.That should make you half-happy.What makes The Watchdog sad: Even if a government lowers its tax rate, rising property values through higher property appraisals will increase our tax bills anyway.Doh.November tax-approval electionsBigger cities, counties and school districts that want to raise taxes will need more voter permission than in the past.If a city or county wants to increase revenue by more than 3.5% in a year, they need approval in an election.In the past, the cap was 8% before an election was called. So that meant governments increased their budgets by 7.99% if needed.For school districts, the cap is now 2.5% for tax increases - or an election must be called.In the past, voters had to petition for an election. Now it's automatic.Note: Voters in cities with a population of less than 30,000 must still petition for a tax-approval election. It's not automatic. But smaller cities and counties have more leeway than bigger cities which must follow stricter new rules.Best part: Elected officials can't hide these tax elections in a low-turnout June or August election when voters aren't paying close attention. They must be part of the November general election. Uh-oh.Information availableAll these tax numbers - old and new - for all taxing districts must now be posted on a county website. So if you're a tax geek., you'll have easier access to more complete, up-to-date tax rate information than before.In addition, if a government plans to boost its tax rate, a detailed public notice is required to inform residents. The notice, in a newspaper and/or on the government's website, explains where and when a public hearing is scheduled so you can go hoot and holler.  Continue reading...

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