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Henderson County Chief Appraisal District Chief Appraiser Bill Jackson is informing property owners about some special concerns that have come up this tax season.

"According to the Comptrollers Property Tax Assistance Division’s, 2019 Property Value Study, the values in Henderson County are 8% to 15% too low depending on the location of the property," Jackson reported. "The Texas Property Tax Code requires all property tax appraisals to be as of January 1 and the Chief Appraiser has no discretion regarding this directive. As of this writing, with the exception of applicable exemptions, most 2020 property taxable values will increase in Henderson County.

Jackson said Van Zandt County Chief Appraiser Scott Hyde has written an article that effectively explains the situation. Jackson, by permission, shared the content of the article.

"Let me first say that I have a great deal of respect for all our leaders in government. They all have an extremely tough job and are having to make impossible decisions during an unprecedented time. With that said, please do not interpret the following as a critique of their leadership.

Recently, I and many others sent a letter to the Governor requesting action by his office to facilitate suspension of this year's January 1 property reappraisals. Suspension of property reappraisals for 2020 would keep property owner's values static at the 2019 level, with the exception of newly constructed property. As of January 1st, the real estate market was still very strong in Van Zandt County and sale prices/values were continuing to increase.

This is a common scenario across the state of Texas. Increasing property values for ad valorem tax purposes at this time could put additional strain on those already suffering financially, as well as cause record protest volumes during a time when we are required to socially distance ourselves and close our Appraisal District offices to the public.

Appraisal District's cannot unilaterally choose to forego reappraisal activities without the State's action, as our property values are tested by the Comptroller's Property Value Study.  In order for school districts to receive their full share of state funding, Appraisal District's local property valuations are required to meet the Comptroller's PVS valuation standards as of January 1st.

County Appraisal District property values must be between 95% to 105% when compared to Jan. 1 sale prices and state appraisals.  Therefore, without the Governor's office taking action to facilitate suspension of these statutory requirements, your Appraisal District will be required to reappraise your property at a higher value reflecting the market as of January 1st, and not as of the more recent economic downturn.

I know and understand that this is a very complex issue. Within school funding, our local property values/taxes are inextricably entangled with funding provided by the state. Texas has a very complex school funding mechanism, and it only became more complicated with the recent passage of House Bill 3 (HB3) this past year. School administrators are trying to navigate the challenges of closing their doors, remotely educating kids, providing meals for children, and developing a budget amidst the new funding intricacies of recent legislation.

If the state were to take the action to suspend or modify Appraisal District's 2020 property reappraisal requirements, it would likely increase the state's share of school funding well past what they originally projected when HB3 was passed. The state is already involuntarily facing this tough reality for the 2021 tax year. But it is my opinion that during a tough time such as this, the state is better positioned to shoulder the extra financial burden of fulfilling the funding promises made by HB3 than property owners at the local level.

I will be doing everything I possibly can to make Van Zandt County property owner's right to protest as accessible as possible, as well as exercising every discretionary power I have (which are few) to lessen the impact of our property reappraisals. I am delaying sending our 2020 Appraisal Notices until May 1st to give the Governor additional time to act. But unless his office quickly takes action on this issue, this will be one more health and financial challenge the citizens of the Texas will be saddled with for 2020."

As for Henderson County, Jackson said, as always, taxpayers will have the opportunity to protest their values as prescribed by Texas Property Tax Code and instructional information that will be included with the 2020 Notices of Appraised Value. These notices are to be mailed by May 1 or as soon thereafter as possible. At this time your appraisal district is trying to find solutions for the taxpayers to communicate with the appraisal district employees and the Appraisal Review Board not only virtually but also effectively.

Jackson said the Appraisal office will remain closed to the public until further notice but is fully staffed and able to be of assistance by phone 903-675-9296, email hcad@hcadtx.org, fax 903-675-4223 or by visiting our website at www.henderson-cad.org.

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