Update on the Legislative Effort on the Citizens for Appraisal Reform (CFAR)

Re: Update on the Legislative Effort of the Citizens for Appraisal Reform (CFAR)

 

With your support, we created CFAR in the Fall of 2016. Our goal was to enhance the administrative appeal process for taxpayers. Working with Senator Jane Nelson and her staff, we achieved this goal through the creation of SB 669, which included many significant changes that increased fairness in both appraisal review board hearings and binding arbitrations. SB 669 was introduced during the Regular Session and quickly made its way through the Senate, passing unanimously.

Once in the House, SB 669 was amended to include numerous sections dealing with the addition of an advisory board to the Comptroller’s Property Tax Division, transparency in tax rates, ARB panels to handle complex high- valued properties, and other positive changes. Again, SB 669 passed the House unanimously.

Unfortunately, when SB 669 arrived back at the Senate, leadership declined to adopt the House amendments because that version excluded the Senate’s tax rate rollback provision. This rollback provision would have required cities, counties, and some special taxing districts to obtain voter approval in order to increase tax rates more than four percent above their prior year level.

During the Special Session, our bill was re-introduced by Senator Nelson as SB 21, then later became an amendment of SB 1, a comprehensive property tax reform Bill which passed out of the Senate.

Meanwhile, the House had their own tax reform bill, HB 32, which included a six percent rollback provision, an automatic disaster revaluation provision, transparency in tax rates, complex ARB panels for higher value properties, as well as the rest of SB 21. HB 32 passed out of the House, but once again Senate leadership declined to accept the House version, primarily based on a desire for the lower rollback tax rate provision (four percent) rather than the House’s six percent rollback rate. Both the House and Senate bills died with expiration of the special session.

Despite that failure, however, the fact that our bill passed either the Senate and House in various forms four different times, twice unanimously, speaks to the strong level of support for the substance of CFAR’s initiative in both legislative bodies. Some have suggested that our bill was even incorporated into other bills to make those bills more generally palatable, again suggestive of strong support, especially by a number of business organizations.

Moving forward, we plan on re-introducing this popular and important legislation in the 2019 Regular Session. When we do, we will once again need your support to get this legislation across the goal line and into Texas law where it can work its reforms in our property tax system.

Meanwhile, our heartfelt thanks for being a part of proactive taxpayer reform!

In: Commercial Property Tax News