If you are a homeowner living in Texas, then you must have received your 2020 property appraisal notice. Now that you have received your notice, there must be this big question pricking you, “Will there be a tax relief because of COVID 19?”. This article is all about that. Get a glimpse of how to lower your property taxes during the pandemic in this article. Stay glued to know more.
Will COVID-19 provide Tax Relief?
A lot of homeowners in Texas are seeing a hike in their property values and are waiting for tax relief. Homeowners are likely to experience a tax relief because of the actions taken by the Legislature in 2019 to cut down the school district tax rates but it is likely to be less than what property owners are expecting. But, as per the opinion from the Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, Texans cannot expect any tax relief. He says, “purely economic, nonphysical damage to property caused by the COVID-19 disaster is not eligible for the temporary tax exemption allowed by the state’s tax code.”
Freeze on property values might provide some relief!
A few local officials have voiced out their opinion that a freeze on property values might provide some tax relief. Gov. Greg Abbott hopes that the economic downturn might result in lower property appraisals which in turn would lower the tax bills. However, the state law concerning appraisals clearly shows the governor was wrong as all taxable properties are appraised at their market value as of January 1st which is pre-pandemic.
Tax Exemptions for COVID -19 Damage
Real and business personal properties in Texas that are affected by COVID 19 are now eligible for tax relief. As per the newly enacted Texas Tax Code § 11.35, taxpayers whose property has been damaged, caused by a governor-declared disaster are likely to receive a temporary exemption from a part of their property tax liability. However, this is applicable only for those properties with at least 15% damage caused by the pandemic.
Tax relief uncertain
As per the opinion issued by the Texas Attorney General, “market value does not qualify for a property tax relief under the Texas Tax Code § 11.35”. The opinion included the word damage, which only meant physical property damage. There is a reasonable argument going on, that the text of Texas Tax Code § 11.35 does not require physical damage of property to trigger the exemption. However, the CAD is likely to deny the exemption. As the Texas Tax Code § 11.35 is new we are uncertain on how courts after such denials,will interpret.
Taxes are likely not to be adjusted this year
Property owners cannot expect to see a tax break this year because of two major reasons. The first one being, the property values were set by the appraisal districts on January 1st before the virus reached the pandemic stage. The second reason being the opinion issued by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, which states “economic damage caused by the Covid-19 disaster does not qualify for the kind of tax exemption”.
The bottom line is that taxpayers looking for property tax relief are likely to face disappointment, but you still have an option to protest to not raise property tax rates.