Harris County Residents Face Sticker Shock On Property Tax Bills

HOUSTON – The average Harris County home’s taxable value has increased an astonishing 36% in just three years, from 2013 to 2016, according to data from the Harris County Appraisal District. This means that the average taxpayer will pay an additional $263 for the combined four county property tax bills, and by January 2017 will be paying nearly $1,000 more for all taxing jurisdictions over just three years.

“This massive increase in taxable value in just 3 years is up dramatically from $116,241 to $157,987 for an average home in Harris County,” said Senator Bettencourt. “That means that without a tax rate reduction all homeowners will be paying $263 more by January 2017 on average on just the county’s portion of their property tax bill. That is the largest three year increase I have ever seen in my lifetime.”

Texas State Senator Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston) has called on Harris County Commissioners Court to cut their tax rate and offer relief to hard pressed Harris County taxpayers. Data from the Texas Comptroller’s Office shows that in 2015, Harris County’s general fund collected an additional $568 million more per year than they did in 2011. This is a 53% increase in just a four-year period and the highest of any major urban county. Unless Commissioners Court takes action, the data indicates that Harris County taxpayers will face one of the highest property tax increases in any district across Texas.

“Over a half billion more in general fund property tax collections each year is enough by any measure,” continued Senator Bettencourt. “Harris County can clearly afford to cut the tax rate for hard pressed taxpayers in an economic slowdown. The essential problem with property taxes is that as values go up tax rates never come down. In the attached letter, the case for property tax relief is clearly laid out.”

Between 2005 and 2014, Texas counties, per the Texas Taxpayers and Research Association, have seen property values increase approximately $832 billion and average tax rates decrease only $0.003. When values increase and tax rates stay the same, taxpayers pay more. Statewide, between 2005 and 2015, county property tax levies have increased 82%, city property tax levies have increased 71%, and median household income has increased an estimated 29%.

“Taxpayers cannot continue to face tax bills that increase 2.5 times faster than their income,” concluded Senator Bettencourt. “The work of the Senate Select Committee on Property Tax Reform & Relief shows this clearly!”

A vote is scheduled on the four county tax rates tomorrow, October 19th, at Commissioners Court at 10:00 AM.