Storm Damage Information
We hope this message finds you safe as we know the dramatic impact we have all faced in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. Even if the storm did not directly affect your property we all have friends and family members that are dealing with the devastation. Our thoughts go out to each of you as you working to replace, rebuild and come out of this disaster.
During this difficult time of transition and rebuilding, we are here to answer any of your questions about your property value and how your property’s value might be impacted by the storm. Some of our clients have already reached out to ask a few questions. This is email is an attempt to try and help answer some of the questions we have already received as well as some additional questions you might have.
One question that has been raised concerns how the storm affects your value for the current tax year (2017). Specifically if your value for 2017 can be lowered due to the flooding and damage caused by the storm? The answer at this point is – maybe! Since the Governor declared Harris and most of the surrounding counties a disaster area it does open the door for a reappraisal of your property. However, neither the taxpayer, Texas Protax nor the Appraisal District has the authority to request or conduct a reappraisal after a disaster on their own. The authority to request a reappraisal is in the hands of the local taxing jurisdictions. If a taxing jurisdiction requests for the properties within their boundary to be reappraised, then the appraisal district must comply with that request. Furthermore, some of the taxing jurisdictions could request a reappraisal while others may not. For example, the Houston Independent School District can call for the reappraisal for all property within their boundary, but the new value determined by the reappraisal would be limited to only the Houston ISD’s taxing authority and does not extend to Harris County, the City of Houston or any other jurisdiction that levies taxes on your property. Also, if the value is lowered based on the reappraisal request, then the taxes based on the lower value would be prorated from the date of the reappraisal through the end of the year. Therefore you would be taxed from January 1st to August 24th at the full market value as of January 1 and then from August 25th to December 31st on the new reappraised value. If all or more than one jurisdiction requests the reappraisal, then the new value would apply to any jurisdiction that has requested the reappraisal.
We do not think the value based on a reappraisal is one that can be protested. State law does not require the appraisal district to send a notice of new value if the appraisal district lowers the value, therefore, the appraisal district may not have to send notices of the new valuations. If the appraisal district is ordered to reappraise property, then after the reappraisals, the appraisal district will submit the new values directly to the taxing jurisdiction.
The second question we have been asked is whether or not evidence of the flooding and loss can be used as evidence for this year’s (2017) hearing to show the loss of value of your property? The short answer is no. If the taxing jurisdictions do not request a reappraisal, then the value of your property is based on the condition as of January 1, 2017. Any damage or change that occurs after January 1 of the current tax year is not considered relevant as evidence at a hearing for 2017.
Although any evidence of damage may not be able to affect the value for 2017, we can definitely use your information for 2018! A few things to remember for 2018:
- Take pictures and keep all receipts for repairs or insurance claims. This information is very helpful at the hearings. We will send you a Request for Information email in March 2018. Our annual questionnaire an excellent time to share information with us concerning your property’s condition as of January 1.
- If you have not completed your repairs, please make sure we know when the work was completed. We will need to know which repairs were made before or after January 1.
- If you make all repairs to your property prior to January 1, 2018, please still send us the information. Your repair information could be helpful in differentiating between a repair and a remodel.
For property that is your homestead, please know there are special rules concerning the cap and reappraisal in the year after a disaster. If you have to replace your home, and the new structure does not exceed the original square footage of your home and the exterior of the replacement is of similar quality as your original home, then the appraisal district cannot change your homestead qualifications or increase your cap value by more than the allowed 10%. If you replace your home with a bigger or higher quality home, then the appraisal district can declare new value and add additional value to your previous cap value. If you have specific questions concerning your homestead eligibility, please do not hesitate to contact us!
We understand the stress and urgency during this time of disaster and will continue to be available to help in any way we can with the appraisal and assessment of your property. However, as we have tried to explain, the reappraisal process is entirely out of our hands, but we will strive to keep you informed as soon as we know more information. As government agencies are coming back on line we will look for announcements and information and keep you up to date on any changes that may come. We have included a bulletin from the Comptroller’s office with some additional information about Disaster Reappraisals. The letter from the Comptroller also includes a link to the Comptroller’s website with more information.
Thank you for being a valued Texas Protax client and we are committed to working with you during this difficult time of repair and rebuilding. If you have any questions or concerns please let us know and we will gladly address them.
- Please see attachments from the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts and also the Texas Property Tax Code concerning this issue.
Your Texas Protax Team