AUSTIN, Texas — Property owners in Travis County may soon, if they haven’t already, start receiving mail that comes with sticker shock.
The Travis Central Appraisal District (TCAD) last week mailed out 389,530 Notices of Appraised Value to Travis County property owners. TCAD said the appraisal roll increased 12% overall but 19% for residential properties from January 2019 to January 2020.
“This year is something that, in terms of markets and what we're seeing happening in the market, particularly for residential, it's an astounding year for us. It's something that I've never seen in the 30 years that I've worked with the Appraisal District,” said Marya Crigler, chief appraiser for the Travis Central Appraisal District.
But TCAD is warning residents not to panic – this doesn’t mean property taxes will automatically increase.
TCAD appraisals are just one part of that process. The rest depends on tax rates that are set by taxing entities, such as Austin ISD or the City of Austin. As those entities’ budgets get bigger, so do property tax bills.
“It's kind of like a pie,” Crigler said. “We slice the pie and give everybody a slice of that pie. We don't determine how big the pie is. How big the pie is determined by the size of the budget of the taxing entity. So the bigger the pie, the bigger your slice. But your slice proportionately doesn't change because of the appraisals.”
Once property owners receive their appraisal notice, a deadline of May 17 is set for filing a protest if they don’t believe the value is accurate.
Crigler explained that due to low housing inventory and increased competition for housing in the Austin area, values are increasing.
“This is really a seller's market at this time,” Crigler said. “A lot more difficult for buyers coming in and trying to find homes to buy and we hear stories on that side, as well as people that have made offers on 10, 12, 14 homes, before they're actually finding one that they can actually win and purchase.”
One way to save money is with a homestead exemption, one of the most common exemptions offered by TCAD. People who own and occupy their home as of Jan. 1 of the same year qualify for it, which Crigler said takes a little off the market value of a home, resulting in a lower taxable value and lower taxes. The other benefit to the homestead exemption is a 10% cap on the assessed value per year.
The deadline to apply for exemptions is April 30, but homeowners can file a late application for up to two years.
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