Associate Chief Appraiser Stephen Atchison talks to new property owners and new Texas residents, about the property tax system in Texas, and HCAD's role in the tax system. (5:11)
Are you a first-time property owner or new to Texas?
Laws and practices regarding property taxes vary from state to state. Understanding how the Texas property tax system works sooner, rather than later, can save you money and time.
Hello I'm Steve Atchison, an appraiser with the Harris County Appraisal District.
In Texas, real property, which is land and improvements to land, such as a building or a paved parking lot are subject to ad valorem property taxes. "Ad valorem" means according to value. The appraised value of the property in each county is determined by your local appraisal districts such as the Harris County Appraisal District. Appraisal districts use mass appraisal techniques, which apply to large numbers of similar properties rather than individual property appraisal as might be employed by a fee appraiser performing an appraisal for a mortgage loan application.
In Texas, the Property Tax Code requires property to be valued at 100% of market value. Taxing jurisdictions must use the appraised values as determined by the local appraisal district.
Detailed information about HCAD's appraisal methodologies can be found on the district's website at www.hcad.org.
Appraisal districts are responsible for determining and administering exemptions that may be applied to a property, such as those for a property owner's primary residence, which is the residential homestead exemption, over-65 exemptions, disabled persons, disabled veterans, and religious and charitable organizations. The district is responsible for updating and maintaining accurate property records.
Appraisal districts do not set tax rates, determine your tax liability, or collect any taxes. Tax rates are set by local government entities. Each has an assessor-collector or tax office to handle assessment and collections. Once the chief appraiser certifies the appraisal roll to the taxing jurisdictions (county, city, school district, etc.), these local government entities then set the tax rate upon which the amount of property tax you owe is calculated. Most taxing jurisdictions are required to publish a notice in the local newspaper regarding proposed tax rates and must allow public discussion prior to adopting tax rates.
For more information about the Harris County tax assessments and payments, visit the Tax Assessor Collector's website at: www.tax.co.harris.tx.us
Contact information for all other jurisdictions is available on our website under Resources - Jurisdiction Information.
With more than 1.7 million parcels and more than 500 taxing jurisdictions in Harris County, HCAD is the largest appraisal district in the state and the third largest appraising entity in the nation. The district's community outreach team is available to meet with civic, neighborhood, church and professional groups to explain our state-mandated duties and help the public understand the property tax process and the options available to reduce the property tax burden.
Taxpayers have specific rights and remedies available to them. For example, as a property owner, you may have the right to see the information used to establish the value of your property. State law also requires that you receive all tax exemptions or other tax relief for which you timely apply and qualify.
Taxpayers are guaranteed certain remedies under the property tax system. If you believe your property value is too high, or if denied an exemption, you may file a protest. Several options exist for protesting property value. You may protest online, by mail, or in person. If you are unable to reach a resolution online or at the meeting with an appraiser, you will be scheduled for a hearing with the Appraisal Review Board. If you are still unhappy with the outcome, you may pursue other legal options.
Exemptions are not automatic. It is your responsibility to file an application before the Tax Code established deadlines and meet all of the legal qualifications.
If you are a business owner, you are required to report, or render, taxable business personal property to the appraisal district, unless the combined total value is less than $500.
Property owners should advise HCAD if their property is not listed correctly on the local tax record and provide the correct name, current address and property description. This is especially important to remember in the event of death, divorce and other events that may trigger change in ownership.
A full explanation of these rights, remedies and responsibilities is available on the Texas State Comptroller's web site at: www.window.state.tx.us
Thank you for listening!