Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Taxation Without Representation Alive and Well in Texas

An open letter to my State Senator, Paul Bettencourt, and my State Representative, Allen Fletcher:


I just received my preliminary defacto no-fault property tax increase notice from Harris County. The Appraisal District estimates my home to have jumped in value by $15,900 in the past year.

I always wanted to live in a $200,000 home, and thanks to the convoluted way the State of Texas and its Counties impose property taxes, I have exceeded my wildest dreams.
More like nightmare.

It’s a defacto tax increase, because regardless of what the County says about “not raising taxes” each year, by jacking up the “value” of my home, and then applying the tax rate, voila: My taxes have just gone up.

It’s a “no-fault” tax increase because the County and the Legislature can look me in the eye and say, “we didn’t raise your taxes; we held the tax rate where it is,” meanwhile extorting more money from my household.

If the County is willing to write me a check for the $211,900 it says my house is now worth, bring it; I can be out by the end of the month. I fail to comprehend how the inflated price my neighbor received for his house last year is justification for the County to charge me more in taxes for my house this year. I cannot sustain annual increases of $100+ in my monthly mortgage payment, thanks to the escrow calculations being re-jiggered by hikes in my property taxes. I am essentially being priced-out of the home I thought I could afford when I bought it.

Fighting this confiscatory process is not easy for the “little guy.”
Sure, I can challenge this figure through arbitration with the County Appraisal District, but there’s a $500 filing fee to set this process in motion. I get the feeling the Legislature and its corroborative Counties don’t want too many people questioning the Appraisal District’s results and digging into its work, so they set a moderately high fee to control the traffic. This is truly taxation without representation, except for the financially flush, and it’s wrong.

Paul, we discussed this very issue many times on my Radio program, and I know my thoughts resonate with you. You're now my Senator in the Legislature. With a little less than two years until the next Legislative session, what will you gentlemen do to address this farce on behalf of your constituents?

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