HOUSTON - Many homeowners are shell shocked across Texas after property tax assessments soared in many places this year. They say they can't afford the rising taxes and the system needs to change.
Homeowners are sounding off on social media and to their elected officials. Some residents in Galveston County say their assessments are so high, they may have to sell their homes.
"We have several renters who have not been able to pay rent for months, at least a year," said property owner Linda Denson of what's already been a tough year.
Linda and Richard Denson say appraisals shot up on the more than 60 units they rent out.
"Our appraisals have gone up an average of 88% this year. And it’s impossible to budget your expenses when you have those kinds of increases in your taxes," said Richard Denson, who also serves as President of the Galveston County Apartment Association.
Susan Lester says the assessment for her League City home went up 45%.
"I feel like it's way out of whack, especially when I live in a home that was built back in 1960 and the appraisal office can't show me comparable homes in the area," she said.
Lester says she has to protest the assessment every year.
"So it's like, 'Do I keep showing you the same pictures, because it still floods?'" said Lester.
We asked Galveston County Tax Assessor Cheryl Johnson why property value assessments are so high this year.
"Values are up because sales are up. Amazingy, despite COVID, there's been a really robust real estate market and a small supply of homes for sale," Johnson explained.
Johnson says about 95% of owners who protest their assessments are successful in getting them reduced. She says the key is to show that your property is lower in value than ones nearby that just sold.
"These are the maintenance things I have to do, so that would be depreciation. And another list, these are the upgrades I'd have to do in order to compete in the market," said Johnson.
State Representative Mayes Middleton (R - Galveston) is working to pass two bills, one to freeze property values, the other to remove pressure to raise them.
"When your local appraisal district falls outside the tolerance for error, right now that's 5%, they're forced to raise your values. So I have a bill right now that's moving through the legislature that would increase that tolerance for error," explained Middleton.
Homeowners can also file for a homestead exemption to lower their property value assessment by up to $25,000.
The Galveston County Tax Assessor offers classes on how to successfully protest a property tax assessment as well as this tutorial video.