Some Millionaire Homeowners in Dallas Pay Less Than They Should on Property Taxes, But Others Pay More

The Watchdog is trying to play the role of property tax detective. Bust the unfair tax system wide open. Help people save money by cutting their taxes, if possible.But it's very difficult because it's such a secretive process. Home purchase prices in Texas are not listed publicly as is the case in many states. County appraisal districts claim they know sale prices, and, of course, real estate agents and buyers and sellers do, too.For the rest of us, we may hear through unreliable word of mouth.That's a problem. The whole taxing system is based on a county appraiser's estimate of what a home is worth and what it would sell for.Our property tax system is like a TV game show. Pick one.I've Got a Secret.Let's Make a Deal.The Price is Right.For years, we've heard that some wealthy homeowners don't pay their fair share of property taxes, but because of the secretiveness, it's difficult to know.Or is it?An unscientific studyThe other day a thick advertising book from Allie Beth Allman & Associates arrived. That's a top luxury home real estate firm in Dallas.I flip through and see some of the most beautiful Dallas homes that either sold or are for sale. Listed for-sale prices are in the millions.At my request, my colleague Marina Trahan Martinez chooses 10 Dallas houses, using the book as a guide and also using We compare the listing price to their 2018 market values, as shown on Dallas Central Appraisal District's website.Market value is what appraisers believe a house would sell for in the current market. In Texas, the market value can be different than the appraised value. Appraised value is what the tax rate for the year is based upon.My market value is usually the same as my appraised value, or sometimes the market value is a few thousand dollars higher.That's not what we found in our little study. On some of the properties, there was a wide discrepancy between what a house allegedly sold for and the market value. The discrepancy, in a few cases, is in the millions.Example: a home in Dallas apparently sold for almost $13 million, but its 2018 proposed market value is only $4.6 million. That's a wide discrepancy between an actual sale price and what an appraiser believes the house would sell for. Even though the sale is a year-and-a-half old, the market hasn't changed that much in time.  Continue reading...

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