Commissioners consider challenging commercial appraisals

AUSTIN -- Travis County Commissioners could decide Tuesday to challenge commercial property tax appraisals. Some homeowners complain commercial property owners are not paying their fair share.

The Travis County Commissioners Court met with attorneys Monday, June 2 to discuss filing a challenge petition to the Appraisal Review Board to determine whether home and commercial properties are appraised fairly.

"There's a lot of concern in our community, and across the state, that the way appraisals are set for residential property owners is not the same for commercial owners," said Bruce Elfant, a Travis County tax assessor or collector.

Elfant says Texas is among nine states who do not require the disclosure of property sales prices. He says the whole system needs a thorough review.

"If the appraisal is based on fair market value let them see what the fair market is," said Elfant.

The group "Real Values for Texas" says publicly traded companies will list properties sale prices on SEC filings, the group says the land is often appraised at half the value of the actual sales price.

"What does that mean for our communities? It means the money from the property taxes supposed to go to schools, county and city services is not going in there," said Beverly Ortiz with "Real Values for Texas."

Homeowners say they are hoping for tax relief, especially for growing values on the East Side.

"I was born and raised on the East Side [East Austin]. I still live there, and I plan to never leave unless I get forced out by taxes," said homeowner Johnny Limon.

Monday is the deadline to file a property tax appraisal appeal, and the form must be postmarked by day's end.

The KVUE Defenders reported last year that big business corporations and larger property owners have millions knocked off their tax valuations.


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