ANNUAL PROPERTY TAX APPRAISAL

Your property taxes may go up significantly this year. If your only home is your homestead and you made no improvements, the increase in the taxable value of your home is limited by law to 10% per year. However, the taxable value on second homes and investment properties which is based on market value may have increased by 20% or more in Harris County from 2013 to 2014.

Whether your homestead makes the 10% limitation applicable, your market value is determined in area counties by appraisal districts who must perform an appraisal annually. The Harris County Appraisal District (HCAD) has almost completed the process for 2014. They have created several interactive maps which identify the average percent change in market value by area, new construction by area, and million dollar homes by area. See http://www.hcad.org/2014Values/

Houston SkylineThe biggest increases in Harris County were in the western half of the county with the areas inside the West Loop and just south of I-10 showing the most change.

You may protest your valuation through June 2nd this year. This is an HCAD document that explains the process http://hcad.org/pdf/forms/GTA-IAD-001.pdf. And, this is the form that must be filed to protest your valuation http://hcad.org/pdf/forms/2014//41-44.pdf.

–          If you live in Montgomery County, your appraisal district can be found at http://www.mcad-tx.org/

–          If you live in Fort Bend County, your appraisal district can be found at http://www.fbcad.org/Appraisal/PublicAccess/

–          If you live in Brazoria County, your appraisal district can be found at http://www.brazoriacad.org/

And, if you just moved into your home in 2013, you have until April 30 to file for the homestead exemption, which, as you can tell, is even more important this year. For Harris County residents, it can be found at http://hcad.org/pdf/forms/2014/11-13.pdf.

Clearly, our good fortune to be in an area booming with the energy industry has downsides including the need for more roads, other infrastructure and services to accommodate the wonderful people moving here to help us develop and process our energy needs. This need for infrastructure and services will be paid by taxes on their new homes and additional taxes on the increases in value our housing market has seen. As you are grumbling about the new taxes, try to remember how lucky we are to live in the Houston area. If you have any questions about the property tax process, please let me know.

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