The new school finance plan passed by the Texas legislature was supposed to bring property tax relief. And as someone who pays around $8000 in property taxes, I could certainly do with some relief. The plan was to reduce the property tax rate for school districts (taxes for which make up over half of the total property tax bill) by about one-third. That means all our tax bills will be substantially lower now, right?
Not necessarily. How much you pay in property taxes is dependent not just on the tax rate but also on the amount that rate is applied to – the valuation given to your property by the Appraisal District. Now the state’s property appraisal officials have commissioned a study that shows property in urban areas is "undervalued" by 15 to 40% and thus the state is "losing" $4 billion a year in taxes.
So Democratic legislator Mike Villarreal has filed legislation that would require "full disclosure" to the government of prices paid in all real estate sales. The point of which is to increase property valuations, which will increase property taxes, thus effectively taking away any property tax cuts that we might have seen from the tax rate caps (and perhaps driving the tax bill even higher than it was under the old rates with the lower valuations).
At present, Texas is one of only a few states that protect the privacy of real estate transactions. Sure, anyone can find out what size loan you took out when you bought your house, but they don’t know how much you paid down or what the total sales price was. Say goodbye to that last vestige of privacy if this legislation passes — and say goodbye to your "tax cuts" if you live in an urban area.