NORTH TEXAS -- Ross Angus Williams has a 1,900 square foot East Dallas home built in 1950. It’s not like the historic Tudor homes nearby, but he thinks it’s being valued like one when he sees his new appraisal and estimated taxes, “$8,986. That’s an incredibly large amount of taxes,” Williams said.
Two years after moving in, he’s wondering how much longer he can afford to stay. “I know at least one of our neighbors that just moved out and said one of the major reasons they moved out was because the tax value had gone up so high, that they couldn’t afford the payments anymore," Williams said.
Williams says rising property taxes have increased his monthly mortgage payment by $500 and that could go up more as the value of this house continues to soar. “The percentage difference between the 2012 appraised value…and the proposed 2017 value…Is an increase of 129.47% over a five-year period. That’s insane,” Williams said.
It is one of more than 100,000 properties in the four big appraisal districts in North Texas that have exploded by 100 percent or more in the last five years.
It’s getting hard to prosper on Prosper Street in Dallas, says Jacqueline Johnson. Her rental is one of 44 addresses on this one street that has risen in value in the last five years by triple digit percentages. And these are small homes, many without central air, many in disrepair. “Look around. Keep your head up. It’s not worth what they’re saying,” Johnson said.
Her landlord is fighting this year’s appraisal, and she worries what will happen if that fight fails. “I’m going to get evicted, and it is not easy to find a place.” Her neighbor, Diane Johnson, says she bought a home here for $40,000 years ago. She says her latest valuation was $153,000. She suspects her appraisal exploded because of the rebuilds down the street.
“And they are building more. There’s more to come. We’ve been inundated with tons and tons of 'We will buy your house' and now they are knocking on doors. 'We will pay this much for your house.'”
If the investors don’t get you she says, she taxes eventually will. “The takeover is what I call it---it’s a takeover of the neighborhood."
“People are in certain areas being taxed out of their homes.” Those are some strong words from Tarrant County Tax Assessor-Collector Ron Wright. He is so tired of hearing other county leaders and city leaders saying they are leaving the tax rate the same. He thinks it confuses a lot of homeowners when their property taxes end up going way up anyway.
He believes that even a lot of those elected leaders don't really know how property taxes work. "The majority of people who run for local office are good decent people who want to do good things for their community, but they are not properly trained on tax law when they take office."
It’s very basic, says Wright. Two things determine your property taxes: The value of the property and the tax rate. Even when the tax rate stays the same, if your annual value goes up -- and it usually has in our hot property market -- your taxes go up too.
In just the last year, the majority of properties in North Texas, almost 1.5 million of them, increased in appraised value. Overall, taxable valuation in the four largest appraisal districts (Dallas, Tarrant, Collin, and Denton) went up by more than $84 billion. Again, if even if you leave rates the same, that’s a lot more potential tax money being raised.
Yet, Wright said he has noticed that while hundreds of thousands of people protest their valuations, almost no one protests when the tax rate is being determined. “I was on the Arlington City Council for 8 years, and we rarely had more than 10 or 20 people at a budget hearing. And at the county last year, when they met and talked about the budget and the tax rate, there were two people who showed up to speak.”
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