Property taxes gone wild!

I recently opened my tax appraisal from Medina County (Texas) Appraisal District. My land appraisal went up by $21,000, an increase of 48% in one year, with no improvements! My land tax on 4 acres last year $974, and this year with no added improvements, $1,415! That’s a 48% increase No one that I know of in this county got a 48% raise in their income. Who of us in other counties/states saw a 48% increase in their income? We the residents of this county have not seen a 48% increase in the improvement of our road, bridges, and infrastructure. Why does the county need 48% more money?? Some of my neighbors have seen a 60% increase, so the windfall to the county could even go higher. Does the county leadership realize what will happen to us if this trend continues?? We won’t be able to afford to live in our own homes, even if we don’t have a mortgage. The appraisal comes with a letter to protest the increase, but I have already been down that route with a terrible experience.
Several years ago, my wife and I appealed our property tax appraisal; a 35% increase on our home property in one year. We hired a certified appraiser to appraise 10 properties in our area and we showed the appraisal board the results that showed that they had unjustly raised our value. We had it in black and white with undeniable truth. The board said “You’ve proved your case to us, but we are not going to lower your appraisal.” We asked why! Their response: “If we lower your tax appraisal, we would have to do it for everyone.” They admitted that we proved they were wrong yet they would not concede because it would prove that they were wrong against everyone. This action was witnessed by a member of the board who knew us personally and recused himself from deliberating on our case. He was as mystified as we were.
There may be another remedy. Under the Texas Tax Code, Section 23.23(a) sets a limit on the amount of annual increase to the appraised value of a residence homestead to not exceed the LESSER of:
1. the market value of the property; or the sum of:
2. 10 percent of the appraised value of the property for last year;
3. the appraised value of the property for last year; and the market value of all new improvements to the property.
If you are on your homestead and have not made capital improvements to that property that create a higher assessed value, THEY CANNOT INCREASE YOUR APPRAISAL MORE THAN 10% from the previous year! Let our county and city leaders hear our voice. Use the protest form that comes in your appraisal or go on line and efile your protest, especially if this effects your homestead. We will not prevail against this form of tax tyranny until we are all heard loud and clear.
By TJ Richardson
Taxpayer in Medina County

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When asked for an explanation of the increase in taxes here are the responses we received.
“This is actually an appraisal issue so it is a Johnette Dixon question. Would you like me to forward this to her? I have read his story and I can say that no mistakes have been made that I am aware of. Due to the current market and price of construction, values have gone up substantially. Although the value on his home increased by the alleged 48% (I have not seen his current appraisal) his taxable value will only increase by 10% per year. The taxable value will be increased by 10% a year until it reaches the full market value. Keep in mind that in order for the 10% cap to be put in place it HAS to be your residence homestead and you must be residing there AND have the exemption. The Appraisal District is NOT a county entity and is NOT governed by the County; they are a political subdivision of the State and are overseen by the Comptroller. Every 2 years the Comptroller comes in and audits the Appraisal District to make sure they are within the confidence interval, meaning they have to be within 10% (5% over or 5% under) the values the Comptroller has come up with. If the Appraisal District is not in line with the Comptroller they are failed on the review and the School districts become at risk of losing funding if corrections are not made in a timely manner. So, yes, the values increased substantially this year but the Appraisal District is only doing their job.
Just for a little to do with my part of the equation.
Once I have figured the tax rates and the entities have decided on a proposed rate they are put in the paper along with meeting dates. This is when the public has the chance to attend the meetings and voice their opinions. The values are assessed by the Appraisal District but the rates are set by the taxing entities. The property tax system can be complicated but knowing how it all works can make it much easier to navigate. If you need any more insight please let me know and I’m happy to help!
On the account he is referencing here there will be no cap because it is a land only account and therefore obviously not his homestead. This accounts value can increase to market value without a cap,” stated Melissa Lutz, Medina County Tax Assessor-Collector
(The News has learned this is a homestead property and the land owner plans to provide the proof.)
Response from Medina County Judge Chris Schuchart, “The county elected officials have no say in the increased values. Mine went up significantly. Two questions come to mind:
Would you sell your property for the new appraised value?
Would you rather live in a place where your land values are going down?
I will find out about the law from the chief appraiser and let you know what I learn.”
Editors Note: This still begs the question ‘Why are land property appraisals going up by over 40% in just one year?’